News

Anything to declare? That's a tough question

SCOUT’S HONOUR: Cr David Pahlke had to declare his boy scout involvement to rule out a conflict of interest.
SCOUT’S HONOUR: Cr David Pahlke had to declare his boy scout involvement to rule out a conflict of interest. File

WHEN is a conflict of interest not a conflict of interest?

The issue of whether outside influence could affect a politician's decision-making is as old as politics itself.

The potential for donations to influence a politician has most recently been brought into focus by allegations aimed at Ipswich's mayor.

Separate to that, the question of conflict of interest is one that in recent years has been faced more and more by Ipswich's city councillors.

More to the point, the councillors say they are being hamstrung by having to list trivial potential conflicts that threaten to limit their community involvement.

Under the Local Government Act, a councillor has a conflict of interest if their decisions are, or may be seen to be, influenced by their personal interests.

If a councillor fails to declare or appropriately deal with a conflict of interest, they may be guilty of misconduct.

The Act, which came into force in 2010, contains guidelines but with emphasis on accountability and transparency in decision-making.

But Ipswich councillors argue the Act goes too far, requiring them to divulge personal relationships, their religion, memberships of community groups and details of their spouses and children.

The Act was amended last year by the LNP Government but Ipswich councillors say, while they generally support the process, it is still unwieldy.

"The importance of accountability is paramount," Cr Paul Tully said.

"The thrust of the provisions - including the recent amendments - are such that if you've got any material personal interests, you've got to leave the meeting. If you've got a potential conflict of interest, it needs to be declared.

"I remember in the bad old days in some councils in Queensland, you could sit in a meeting and vote on a development for your own land. It was absolutely and utterly outrageous.

"It's just a laborious method of having to make the declaration for each councillor if you're a member of the show society, or have received some hospitality.

"You've got to declare shares and investments on the public register; conflicts of interest can arise at a council meeting but don't have to be declared on the public register.

"My view is, the government could amend it to provide that once it's declared on the public register - that's available on the internet - it doesn't have to be re-declared at a council meeting."

Cr David Pahlke is often a sparring partner of Cr Tully in council chambers but has a similar view on potential conflicts of interest.

"I totally agree with Paul but, in the last Labor Government, I had to declare that I was a boy scout 50 years ago because there was a report in a committee about boy scouts. How far do you go?," Cr Pahlke said.

"They've changed it a little since then. Now, the onus is on you as a councillor to make that decision.

"The way it was before, if a report came from a committee recommending giving $2000 to a Catholic church group, you had to declare if you were a Catholic.

"My issue is with the trivial end. I got a couple of free drinks and a ticket to a Jets football game seven years ago. Is that a conflict? A good example is the show society, going to their luncheon, and Ipswich Turf Club.

"What we need is clear guidelines and examples of what you can declare. I think the whole thing is a bit of a joke. It has to be tightened up and made more specific. Half the meetings are taken up with declarations."

Acting Local Government Minister Jarrod Bleijie said there were substantial changes to the Act in 2012 as a result of the Minister's listening tour.

"The provisions around a conflict of interest (COI) and a material personal interest (MPI) have been much simpler for councillors following the amendments," Mr Bleijie said.

"COI and MPI are popular topics in our training sessions for councillors. The department holds regular training sessions and we'd encourage all councillors to take part."

Topics:  conflict of interest ipswich city council



Search on after couple kidnapped, locked in container

Police generic, crime scene.  Photo Tessa Mapstone / South Burnett Times

Police call interpreter for probe into kidnapping claim

Suburban shooting may have been mistaken identity: Police

NSW police generic Handcuffs arrest. 07 October 2016

Police puzzled over motive for attack

'Shattered': Single dad victim in morning hit and run

HIT AND RUN: Police are investigating after a car crashed into another car in Flinders View.

Ipswich man's parked car, house badly damaged

Local Partners

Gatton family claims game show success

A GATTON family walked away with more than $11,000 after an exciting three-night run on game show Family Feud.


9 things to do this weekend

IT'S ON: Help raise funds for cancer research this weekend at the Ipswich Turf Club. The Shearer Tackles Cancer pig races will still be conducted in the Beer Garden from 12pm.

From music and markets to hiking and swimming, Ipswich has it all

Six things to do this weekend

Enjoy a visit with Thomas and Friends at The Workshops Railway

Check out what's on in and around Ipswich.

Your guide to a great night out

The Village Festival in August featured Aussie music icons Mark Seymour and James Reyne.

Check out some live music in Ipswich this weekend

REVIEW: Undressed is more than titilating entertainment

Nathan and Tahlia meet for the first time on the TV series Undressed.

'DIVERSE' dating show goes more than skin deep.

Will there be a Game of Thrones spin-off?

Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage in a scene from season six episode 10 of Game of Thrones.

HBO’S original programming president has teased fans.

Ed Sheeran's intimate gigs down under

Singer Ed Sheeran

CHART-topper playing invite-only shows in Australia next month.

Eddie McGuire's scandal-free focus and new-look Hot Seat

Eddie McGuire hosts the new Millionaire Hot Seat Super Game.

HOST wants out of the hot seat himself to focus on game show revamp.

Embattled Amber Sherlock back on TV after leaked video

Amber Sherlock seems to have brushed off the leaked video

Read Kim Kardashian's terrifying statement on robbery

“The individual with ski goggles rips out my BlackBerry phone.”

WARNING: Builders, clean up "unsightly sites"

Councillor Ireland at a messy building site.

Failure to do so could see builders slapped with fines.

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

What a year 2016 proved to be

Entrance Island, Birtinya

Get the inside info from the agents themselves

REVEALED: What Coast wants in an international airport

Sunshine Coast business people share their views on what's needed

Time for a cool change

43 Eckersley Ave, Buderim.

Family home goes to the auction floor

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!