IPSWICH developer Dan Gorman has backed the Forward Ipswich fund's dual role of supporting the community and promoting Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale's election campaigns.
Mr Gorman, who is on the Forward Ipswich management committee, was quoted in a media report as appearing oblivious to how the fund operates.
But Mr Gorman said he was fully aware how the fund worked and refuted suggestions that Cr Pisasale was running an enterprise for his own gain and keeping committee members in the dark.
Mr Gorman said his own role on the committee was not to raise funds, but to assist in the community focus of the fund where he had been active in distributing goods to the needy.
Mr Gorman's company, Gorman Property Group, has given "gifts in kind" to Forward Ipswich but no cash.
"It is a community-based company to help people, and my main role is to be supportive of Paul," Mr Gorman said.
"I wouldn't be on it apart from Paul."
Mr Gorman said there had "never been any money changing hands" for Cr Pisasale's own gain.
"We have never given Paul any money and we have never given the lady mayoress's fund any money either.
"But we are willing to give gifts in kind."
Cr Pisasale told the QT that the fund had a dual purpose, as listed in its incorporation documents.
"Forward Ipswich is a campaign fund established by me for the purposes of funding my election campaign and supporting the community," he said.
The mayor said the fund was "established based on recommendations from the LGAQ and other legal advice to establish a fully transparent campaign fund".
Money goes into the Forward Ipswich account from businesses and individuals that attend fundraisers and events such as mayoral golf days and anniversary dinners, and who make one-off donations.
These events often promote Cr Pisasale.
The funds then get spent on administrative expenses, to pay for community events and to help those in need - as Cr Pisasale and the committee see fit.
The QT asked Mr Gorman: Do you think that is a good process?
"I think that is a great process," Mr Gorman said.
"It is a matter of getting the right people elected into the council, people that are go-ahead … so we are going to get a progressive attitude towards the community here, whether it be the business community or other parts of the community that are affected by bad luck."
The QT revealed that $99,518.77 had been raised by the fund in the financial year ending in 2013.
That included $83,100 from the mayor's anniversary dinner.
The QT has seen an itemised expense list and the funds are used for everything from seniors concerts to paying the parking fines of citizens Cr Pisasale believes have been wronged.
In the incorporation lodgement application to the Queensland Government, the objects of Forward Ipswich are listed as the following:
- Marketing and promotion of the city of Ipswich and its leadership.
- Providing strong leadership in promotion of jobs and the economic, cultural and educational development in the city of Ipswich.
- Supporting business and community in need.
- Raising funds for the exercise of the association and any other objective of the association.
- Exercising other objectives that the management committee may from time to time consider is conducive or incidental to achieving or pursuing the association's objectives.
Mr Gorman said he was supportive of the mayoral promotion aspect of the fund.
We asked him: If you thought this was just for re-electing Cr Pisasale, would you be part of this committee?
"Yes I would," he said.
"We support Paul and we like what he does.
"He is great for Queensland and great for Ipswich.
"We develop in Ipswich, so it is good for us as a company."
Mr Gorman said a "tall poppy syndrome" was the reason for the intense media scrutiny on the fund.
"Paul has always been above everything, so to try and drag him down like this is disgraceful," Mr Gorman said.