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Mayor dismisses controversy: Money was not for his own pocket

LETTER OF THE LAW: Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale.
LETTER OF THE LAW: Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale. Sarah Harvey

IPSWICH Mayor Paul Pisasale insists the $7500 paid by Australian Water Holdings (AWH) in 2007-08 to three separate mayoral fundraisers was not for his personal use.

Cr Pisasale was the subject of a media report yesterday that highlighted the transactions involving AWH, which is currently under investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Former mayoral candidate Peter Luxton has hit out at Cr Pisasale and said he should not receive a cent from business groups and that such donations were undermining democracy.

But Cr Pisasale said the money went to a fund administered by an independent committee that he keeps at arms length.

"I did not personally accept any money," he said

"For $2000 they bought a table at a business lunch I was having. Out of that, $1200 is for the food.

"Every year I have a golf day that is used for various charities, the Mayor's Community Fund or for Forward Ipswich.

"They (AWH) put a team in it, but so did 30 other businesses. Then there was $3500 they spent for some sporting memorabilia.

"There are regulations with what you have to do with donations to mayoral campaigns and I follow it to the letter of the law.

"I have a committee that is at arm's length from me that manages it. I declare everything and do everything by the book."

Cr Pisasale said the funds from AWH weren't used for his mayoral campaign.

He said he was now using money from the Forward Ipswich fund to organise two senior concerts in Ipswich in September and that funds were often used to support charities and community organisations.

"I don't take the money out of the public purse," he said.

"I have got a committee that is set up, that has now been formalised, called Forward Ipswich

"All (money) goes into a fund that is administered by an independent body."

Mr Luxton said he did not receive "one cent" from business groups for his mayoral campaign and that Cr Pisasale should not either.

"I don't think he should receive money from anyone in the first place," he said.

"It cost me $8000 personally last election and every cent of that was my own, and I am up against a mayor that gets thousands from developers.

"No-one is going to donate money without expecting something in return. If they did it because they love democracy, they would have given it to me, too, but they didn't.

"Donations to local government (candidates) should be absolutely not on, because that is the area that can most dramatically change the way we live."

But Cr Pisasale said Mr Luxton was out of touch with how campaigns were funded and that AWH had not been contracted to do any work for council.

"It costs a lot of money to run mayoral campaigns, but at state and federal level, they get paid for it. We don't," he said.

"Before every election I write a letter out to businesses to help me in the election, but that gets done separately.

"I support the businesses who are investing, but they have never asked me to do one illegal thing, and if they did, they wouldn't be in the city.

"We wouldn't be able to have my Christmas carols or the Ipswich Festival without these (business) people

"Luxton should get involved in the community rather than waiting to have a shot at me all the time."

Topics:  australian water holdings, mayor paul pisasale



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