Mayor escapes censure
THE acting Premier Jackie Trad has failed to censure Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale for lobbying Campbell Newman to support the Yaroomba development plans of Sekisui House.
It was revealed yesterday Mr Pisasale, who has accepted campaign donations from the developer, wrote to Mr Newman in 2013 when he was Premier to lobby for the proposal.
He told the ABC this week there were no borders in South East Queensland.
"Whilst Mayor Pisasale is the much loved Mayor of Ipswich it really is the responsibility of Mayor Jamieson and Sunshine Coast Council to determine development applications put forward for the Sekisui House site,'' Ms Trad said.
"Development controls over the site are a matter for the Sunshine Coast Regional Council under the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme."
"All development applications are assessed by the relevant local government authority elected by their local community."
Sekisui House has launched a series of invite-only forums to test its options for the 19ha development site at Yaroomba which represents the remaining parcel of land it purchased with an existing master plan approval.
In 2013 the company began lobbying state government and council representatives in a series of meetings that did not come to the public's attention until Mr Newman returned from an Asian investment trip on October 2 to announce a number of developments including Sekisui's billion dollar Yaroomba expansion plans.
A development of the scale was not envisaged in either the draft or final Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme which came into affect in early 2014.
The developer's attempts to have its proposal accepted were eventually rejected by the council on April 28, 2015, after broad opposition from the community.
The Queensland Integrity Commission's register shows a series of meeting held in private with state and local elected representatives from mid 2013 until March 2015 about the proposal but none involving Mr Pisasale who clearly had received a briefing by September 23, 2013 when he sent a letter of support to Mr Newman.
Sekisui House yesterday failed to answer questions about why and when Mr Pisasale was informed of the proposal and why that was done before the developer explained its intent to the Sunshine Coast community.
In a statement the developer said "Sekisui House has followed all protocols relating to political donations to candidates as well as making regular contributions to the broader Ipswich community. Sekisui House has always believed in the importance of a productive working relationship with the local council and its leaders."
Revelations yesterday of Mr Pisasale's lobbying efforts have renewed calls for a ban on developer donations in Queensland and for real time disclosure of election donations.
"My Department has been developing options to present to Cabinet to implement the recommendations of the Crime and Corruption Commission's recent report into donations to local council candidates, titled 'Transparency and Accountability in Local Government','' Ms Trad said.
Her comments followed calls from Nicklin Independent Peter Wellington for both real time disclosure and for bans on donations from developers and their associates as is now the case in NSW.
"At the time of forming Government, the Premier gave a commitment to Mr Wellington that a Palaszczuk Government would investigate real-time, online disclosure of political donations and work should be underway to fulfil that commitment, the acting Premier said.
IPSWICH Mayor Paul Pisasale has hit back at ABC reports he lobbied on behalf of a developer keen to get a $2 billion project on the Sunshine Coast over the line.
Cr Pisasale said it was old news, had been investigated by the CCC, given a new headline and was part of an ongoing smear campaign against him.*
The ABC reported on Tuesday Cr Pisasale lobbied Campbell Newman on behalf of Japanese developer Sekisui House over their proposed six-star hotel and residential scheme at Coolum.
Sekisui House donated $5000 to Cr Pisasale's mayoral re-election campaign this year, which was reported by ARM last month.
Cr Pisasale said he was simply giving advice to a company who wanted to spend billions of dollars in the state.
He said Sekisui House executives approached him for advice more than three years ago after their Sunshine Coast project was knocked on the head.
"Every decision I have made has always been in the best interest of this city and absolutely no developer could ever buy that vote," he said.
"They (Sekisui House) could not work out what happened on the Sunshine Coast.
"So I called Mayor Jamieson who told me they did not conform to the town plan and they did not follow the community consultation process.
"I went back to Sekisui House and told them to start all over again, work with the community and follow the town plan.
"I hear they have started to put that advice into place and have started over again.
"I did not lobby anyone at any stage . . . I simply gave them some advice."
Cr Pisasale said it was during that conversation Sekisui House executives revealed they had never met then-premier Campbell Newman, who had only just been elected to office.
He said he told the executives to write a letter stating what they were all about and he would pass it on to the premier.
"They wanted the opportunity to meet with the premier as they were spending a lot of money in the state," he said.
"They sent me a letter, I put it on my letterhead and sent it to Campbell Newman saying this is what they wanted to talk to him about.
"They organised it from there and then went ahead and had the meeting with him.
"I did the introduction and was not involved in any discussions . . . I simply introduced the two parties which is what my job is as a mayor."
Cr Pisasale said it seemed some sections of the media wouldn't accept he had passed one of the most stringent investigations any politician could face.
"Not once did he mention all those allegations have been investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission and were 100% cleared."
Cr Pisasale said he fully supported Speaker Peter Wellington's call on Tuesday for greater transparency surrounding political election donations.
He said he would like to see widespread changes to political donations laws at a local, state and federal level.
Campbell Newman could not be reached for comment.