Boyle?s meeting with councillors could be fiery

By YVONNE McLEAN

TODAY, Friday, could be a turning point for the Gold Coast City Council, undeniably still in withdrawal from the findings of the CMC Commission which included deep criticism of the conduct of several candidates over funding arrangements for their campaigns in the 2004 election.

Today, at Evandale council chambers and behind closed doors, the Local Government Minister Desley Boyle will meet with council in what is expected to be a frank and open discussion.

This meeting may or may not lay to rest the sense of injustice over the inquiry and its findings which is keenly felt by the majority of councillors.

Deputy Mayor Cr David Power who along with Grant Pforr faces prosecution for allegedly misleading or incomplete information on their election returns, had one word to say of the Minister's visit. "Interesting", he said.

Both councillors are committed to vigorously defend the charges. Cr Power claims bias in the CMC summing up.

One councillor especially keen about the Minister's visit is Christine Robbins, whose sister-in-law, the late Cr Sue Robbins was a name mentioned frequently during the inquiry's delving into developer funding for some 2004 election candidates.

"I am hoping there will be op- portunity to question the Minister on her final decisions over the form of election funding," she said.

"I absolutely agree that campaign sources and amounts must be declared before an election. But it would be a bad day for democracy in local government, if independent candidates with few personal financial resources were prevented from seeking outside funds - and let's face it, this is the source of funding support on all tiers of governments."

Cr Robbins said drastic changes to independent candidates (those unaligned to any political party) canvassing for funds, could pave the way for only rich candidates or party political candidates seeking election.

"If party politics take over, and moves are afoot in this direction, and a government with the same philosophy in power, council could dance to the tune of the state government. I am hoping the minister is wise to this possibility as she revises the election rules and regulations for local authorities," Cr Robbins said.

As a result of the Minister's decision to personally address the council, the controversial but majority supported intention of Mayor Ron Clarke to endeavour to remove any public perception that the CMC findings had damaged the council's open and accountable reputation since the election, by a $10,000 advertising campaign, had been put on hold ? for now.



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