Crikey’s Las Vegas division loves to host a fight and today we have a special yoursay as Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke and his harshest council critic Peter Mayor slug it out over “The Clarke Chronicles” (Part 1 and Part 2) – a two part feature interview with Mayor Clarke by our Gold Coast correspondent Willie Whiteshoes. The fight comprises two letters from Cr Young and then a response at the bottom from Mayor Clarke.

The first Peter Young letter

Dear Editor

in advance of all the details that Willie Whiteshoes is promising to reveal about the Gold Coast Bulletin and the developer funded pro-development bloc on the Gold Coast City Council, I thought I’d like to offer you some uncontestable FACTS. And, let’s face it, if you are relying on Ron Clarke and his liberal interpretation of the truth, my opinion is that these are probably the only facts your readers are going to see about this topic in the near future.

FIRSTLY, LET’S TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT THE LEADER OF THE BLOC CR DAVID POWER

“I can say that I am paying my own campaign funding.” Power said. (Gold Coast Sun 25 March 2004 – 3 days prior to the election)

Cr Power’s election gift register reveals:
Developer and property industry donations – $29,850.
Proceeds from ‘luncheon tickets’ – $58,000.
Total value of gifts and donations – $88,925.

Cr Power’s 2004 election gift register reveals he received $2,200 from XYZ Investments. It appears the Principal Director of XYZ is also the Principal Director of Haracliff Pty Ltd and Kembrook Pty Ltd.

Haracliff Pty Ltd and Kembrook Pty Ltd are owners and developers of a residential estate called Riverlinks, at Coomera. In 2001 Council resolved to approve Riverlinks, insisting that the developer hand over some land for a public park on the Coomera River. The developer had wanted to turn this piece of the land into 23 waterfrontage lots – the vacant lots sell for $450,000 to $900,000 each. Council’s decision to have this area dedicated as parkland was based on a long history of development approvals and plans that showed a much greater area would be required for a public park. In essence, what Council decided would be provided as park in 2001 was very much a compromise.

The developers appealed against Council’s decision, as is their right, insisting that the land not be dedicated as park. Since then meetings have been held with the developer to try to settle the matter. Because of the legal situation I cannot tell you what was presented to Council in a recent report about this matter, nor what was said in closed session, nor what the final outcome was, but I can tell you that the bloc led by Cr Power have now resolved to settle the Appeal and I will let you guess for yourself if the public is to get the riverfront park as decided in 2001 or if the developer is to get another $10 million from land sales.

SHOULD COUNCILLORS DECLARE A POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND ABSTAIN FROM VOTING ON MATTERS INVOLVING DEVELOPERS WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THEIR ELECTION CAMPAIGN?

There’s nothing unlawful about taking money from anyone and then voting on a matter that involves the payee, unless of course there is a personal benefit derived from that. Does being elected and getting paid handsomely and having various benefits constitute a personal benefit? Here’s some examples of development proposals dealt with by Council since the March 2004 election, the money paid into the trust fund, and the voting of Councillors who benefiteed from the election gifts.

Sunland development (Q1), City Planning 9 November, Council 22 November

ITEM 1 IMPLEMENTATION & ASSESSMENT
AMEND APPLICATION UNDER SECTION 3.5.24 AND 3.5.33 OF THE INTEGRATED PLANNING
ACT – LOT 1 RP173827, LOTS 1-5 RP41925, LOTS 1-4 SP132911, LOTS 40, 41,
45-49, 51-54, 59 & 60 RP41923 – 3011-3019 GOLD COAST HIGHWAY, 7-27 HAMILTON
AVENUE, 12-28 CLIFFORD STREET AND 35-43 NORTHCLIFFE TERRACE, SURFERS
PARADISE – DIVISION 7 PN72012/01/DA2

Sunland donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Trust recipients present at committee: Pforr, Betts
at Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

****************************************************************************

Villa World development, City Planning 27 July, Council 30 July

ITEM 6 IMPLEMENTATION & ASSESSMENT
MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE (CODE ASSESSMENT) FOR A MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT
CONSISTING OF PODIUM LEVEL SHOPS, CAFÉS, COMMERCIAL SERVICES, AMUSEMENT
PARLOUR, SERVICE INDUSTRY (GROUP A), TAKE AWAY FOOD PREMISES AND RESTAURANTS
WITH TWO APARTMENT BUILDINGS ABOVE WITH HEIGHTS OF 36 STOREYS (131.4 METRES
AHD) AND 50 STOREYS (176.4 METRES AHD) RESPECTIVELY – VILLA WORLD LIMITED –
LOT 100 ON RP188933 – 3113 SURFERS PARADISE BOULEVARDE, SURFERS PARADISE –
DIVISION 7 – FILE PN67856/01/DA4(P3)

Villa World donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Owner of Villa World Greg Phillips donated $20,000 to trust Trust recipients at committee: Pforr, Betts
At Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

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Stockland development, City Planning 4 May, Council 7 May

ITEM 1 STATUTORY PLANNING
COMBINED MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE (DEVELOPMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TABLE OF
DEVELOPMENT FOR THE RESIDENTIAL A ZONE – INCORPORATING DESIGN CONTROLS FOR
CONVENTIONAL AND DUPLEX HOUSING ALLOTMENTS) AND RECONFIGURING A LOT (29
FREEHOLD LOTS WITH ROAD DEDICATION) – STOCKLAND DEVELOPMENT PTY LTD – JACOBS
RIDGE : PRECINCT E – LOT 110 ON SP165031 – 85 EGGERSDORF ROAD, ORMEAU –
DIVISION 2 – FILE PN188765/12/DA2(P4)

Stockland donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Trust recipients at committee: Pforr, Betts
at Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

****************************************************************************

Stockland development, City Planning 22 June, Council 25 June

ITEM 3 STATUTORY PLANNING
COMBINED MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE (CODE) AND RECONFIGURING A LOT – STOCKLAND DEVELOPMENT PTY LTD – THE OBSERVATORY ESTATE, LOT 3 AND PART LOTS 4 AND 5 ON SP 156625, OBSERVATORY DRIVE AND TOLGA ROAD, REEDY CREEK – DIVISION 12 – FILE PN255178/12/DA2

Stockland donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Trust recipients at committee: Pforr, Betts
at Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

****************************************************************************

Stockland development, City Planning 17 August, Council 20 August

ITEM 1 IMPLEMENTATION & ASSESSMENT
JACOBS RIDGE : PRECINCT B – MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE (CODE ASSESSABLE DEVELOPMENT INCORPORATING DESIGN CONTROLS FOR CONVENTIONAL, DUPLEX AND INTEGRATED HOUSING ALLOTMENTS) AND RECONFIGURING A LOT (287 LOT FREEHOLD
SUBDIVISION WITH PARK DEDICATION AND STAGING) – STOCKLAND DEVELOPMENT PTY LTD – LOT 400 ON SP 165031 AND LOT 20 ON SP 156629 – 79 EGGERSDORF ROAD, ORMEAU – DIVISION 2 – FILE PN255464/12/DA2(P6)

Stockland donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Trust recipients at committee: Pforr, Betts
at Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

****************************************************************************

Stockland development, City Planning 5 October, Council 8 October

ITEM 8 IMPLEMENTATION & ASSESSMENT
APPROVAL OF A DETAILED PRECINCT PLAN AND RECONFIGURATION OF A LOT APPLICATION (154 LOTS) – STOCKLAND DEVELOPMENT PTY LTD – LOT 905 SP156635, LOT 910 SP156649, PART OF LOT 915 SP167602 AND PART OF LOT 904 SP156635,
KOPPS ROAD, PITCAIRN WAY AND BINSTEAD WAY, GAVEN (PACIFIC PINES ESTATE) – DIVISION 5 – FILE PN257349/02/DA2(P2) & 555/12/1406-GEN(P8)

Stockland donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Trust recipients at committee: Pforr, Betts
at Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

****************************************************************************

Stockland development, City Planning 12 October, Council 18 October

ITEM 9 IMPLEMENTATION & ASSESSMENT
COMBINED APPLICATION INVOLVING PRELIMINARY APPROVAL FOR MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE FOR COMMUNITY TITLE SUBDIVISION (“HILLTOP COMMUNITY”), PRELIMINARY APPROVAL FOR MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE FOR COMMUNITY NODE, PRELIMINARY APPROVAL FOR MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE FOR ATTACHED HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT PERMIT FOR MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT AND DEVELOPMENT PERMIT FOR RECONFIGURING A LOT (SUBDIVISION TO CREATE 1003 LOTS AND PUBLIC OPEN SPACE) – STOCKLAND DEVELOPMENT PTY
LIMITED – LOT 80 W31445, LOT 5 W31222, LOT 161 W311184, LOT 26 W311670, LOT 1 RP81967, LOTS 64-72 RP14279, LOT 154 W31222 AT 356, 468 & 574 RESERVE ROAD & UNNAMED ROADS, UPPER COOMERA – DIVISION 2 – FILE PN127507/12/DA1

Stockland donated $10,000 to Lionel Barden Trust
Trust recipients at committee: Pforr, Betts
at Council: Pforr, Betts
Declarations of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest: NIL

RON CLARKE STILL SETTING RECORDS.

Under the reign of Cr Clarke, this Council has now managed to stop debate on no less than 23 occasions since April. The bloc do this by moving (and supporting) ‘that the motion be put’ or that ‘the amendment be put’. When such a motion is carried there can be no further debate whatsoever on the matter.

This procedural technique was used just 7 times from 1997 to March 2004.

It is a very real indication of the way the bloc manage ‘business’. Anything controversial, like upping the rates, or sending Councillors on overseas jaunts in business class, or increasing Councillor’s salaries, or having budget meetings in closed session, or wasting ratepayer’s money on misleading advertising – if they don’t want to hear the debate, or more pointedly if they don’t want the public and media to hear the debate, they just close it off with this gagging routine.

Yours Sincerely

Peter Young
Councillor for Division 5
Gold Coast City

The second Peter Young letter

Dear Editor

I read with interest part 1 of Willie Whiteshoes’ interview with Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke. As Ron mentions me extensively, and seems intent on discrediting the facts I have presented to your readers beforehand, please allow me to offer the following brief analysis.

I note that Ron now concedes that some meetings are held in closed session, contrary to his earlier claim that “All Council meetings, all the meetings of the standing committees and advisory boards are open to the public.” I am glad my point of fact has got through to him, but it does perhaps say something for the veracity of many of his ‘factual’ claims.

What surprises me most about the interview is that Ron still claims he voted against a pay rise. Your readers will recall that in his Crikey article of 3 November Ron states: “The Council records show I voted AGAINST any immediate pay rise for Councillors, not FOR it as was claimed.”

The simple fact is that when given the opportunity to retain the Councillor’s remuneration package at its pre-existing level Ron voted against that, as shown in the minutes of the meeting of 18 June viz:

MOTION moved Cr Sarroff seconded Cr Crichlow

“That the system of remuneration of Gold Coast Councillors remain as is, incorporating a CPI increase on an annual basis.”

Cr Sarroff called for a division

For 3 Cr Young, Cr Crichlow, Cr Sarroff

Against 10 Cr Hackwood, Cr Pforr, Cr Molhoek, Cr Douglas, Cr La Castra, Cr Shepherd, Cr Grew, Cr Betts, Cr Robbins, Cr Clarke

The MOTION was LOST

At that same meeting Cr Clarke moved a motion that Councillor’s salaries be increased to 71% of that of a State MLA! He clearly voted for a payrise.

Furthermore, at the meeting of 30 July, the records show Cr Clarke supported a motion that included the following component:

“That pursuant to Section 237(2)(c) of the Act, the basis on which the salary for a Councillor is initially calculated is 75% of the salary of a Member of the Legislative Assembly, Queensland, effective from 9 August 2004. The rate for a Committee Chairperson will be 110% of that of a Councillor, for the Deputy Mayor 120% of that of a Councillor, and for the Mayor 160% of that of a Councillor.

Further, on 1 July 2005 the salary for a Councillor shall be increased to 80% of the salary of a Member of the Legislative Assembly, Queensland, as determined by the State Government from time to time.”

For 12 Cr Hackwood, Cr Power, Cr Pforr, Cr Molhoek, Cr Douglas, Cr La Castra, Cr Shepherd, Cr Grew, Cr Betts, Cr McDonald, Cr Robbins, Cr Clarke
Against 2 Cr Young, Cr Crichlow

The MOTION was CARRIED

How can Ron still claim that he “voted against the councillors’ remuneration rise”?

On the matter of Rates, Ron claims that “after you factor in all the charges as an overall rate … the reductions outweigh any increases. It went down in real terms.”

The fact is that as well as introducing new levies, Council determined to increase rates by the following percentages for owner occupied residential properties: General rate 3.8%, Wastewater 3.04%, Cleansing 4.0%, Open Space Preservation Levy 6.7%, Water 25%. (Yes 25%) Interestingly Cr Clarke excludes the cost of water from his definition of the term ‘all the charges’. Any property owner using the same amount of water as they did last year will this year pay more in their overall rates and charges.

On the matter of the membership of the Advisory Boards, Cr Clarke claims “Yes we got the qualifications from them all…everyone who applied.” This is complete and utter garbage. I inspected the files of the applicants myself. Some of Ron and the bloc member’s friends nominated after the closing date, without providing any supporting information whatsoever. Some highly qualified and experienced members of the public who nominated formally by the closing date were overlooked in favour of these special mates.

Furthermore Cr Clarke claims “The selection process was the chair of the Standing Committee, the CEO and myself”. More garbage. When he was asked in Council about potential members of the Boards, Ron said “I don’t know” and we had to rely on his advisor former Mayor Ray Stevens for details, scant as they were.

I expect I will need to prepare another letter to you soon about the next instalment of the ‘Clarke Chronicles’! In the meantime Happy New Year to you.

Peter Young
Councillor for Division 5
Gold Coast City

The Ron Clarke response to Peter Young

Dear Editor,

Once more our colleague vents his spleen against me, in particular, and his so-called “power-bloc” colleagues. The detailed charges he cites are to do with various successful applications from developers who contributed to campaign funds with the inference that without the contributions the applications would not have been approved, and a comparison to the number of “gag” motions passed by Council since I was elected and took the Chair.

He well knows, of course, these motions came from the floor of Council, not me, and as Chair I am duty bound to accept them. It was his colleagues who made the decision that the debate had progressed for long enough and going nowhere. In all instances I agreed with them and take some of the responsibility. I have been far too liberal a chair letting speakers drone on for too long, and for the debate to continue well past the point when speakers were bringing in new points.

I am glad I have been admonished by Cr Young, as one of the worst culprits, for not controlling the length of these debates better forcing the floor to bring them to an end. 2005 will see a difference.

As far as the instances of developer “payback” Cr Young listed, contrary to his claims, the applications were approved on their merit with a number being supported by Cr Young himself (he actually moved a couple).

I do not agree with it but in democratic societies candidates for political positions need to advertise/promote their qualities and, as such, must be independently wealthy, belong to a political party, or canvass contributions from the community.

Given that political parties themselves collect contributions from vested interests there is just no way that the majority of elected candidates can take up their position free from commitments.

The assumption of the public, fed by the media, is that the only reason developers contribute to election campaigns is to ensure the particular candidate will support a future specific application.

The irony of the Gold Coast situation is that, to overcome this conception, some developers put together their funds into a Trust fund so that candidates would not know the identity of their supporters. Surely this is the best way to overcome any charges of indebtedness by successful candidates post-election.

Yet the Bulletin, so quick to imply the seeking of favours when developers make direct donations to election funds, went out of its way to force the disclosure of the identities of the Trust Fund donors so they could not remain anonymous.

If there are to be assumptions of ulterior motives in every donation to election costs by developers, then all other special interest groups should be considered. For example, some environmental groups contributed to Peter Young campaign, and the Night Club owners made a substantial contribution to Suzie Douglas’ costs, but neither Councillor thought it necessary to declare these interests in resolutions concerning these special interests.

Frankly, until the legislation is changed, nor should they.

Best wishes,
Ron Clarke,
Mayor – City of the Gold Coast.