Electoral process ?corrupt

QUEENSLAND'S Crime and Misconduct Commission has recommended charges be laid against the Gold Coast deputy mayor and five other people after it found the 2004 electoral process was corrupted by "secrecy, deceit and misinformation".

The commission looked into allegations of corruption in the Gold Coast Council following a complaint by whistleblower councillor Peter Young.

The complaint centred on allegations of bribery by developers believed to have supported a group of "like-minded" councillors at the last local elections.

The report, tabled in Queensland parliament yesterday, found conduct during the 2004 election had "adversely affected the integrity of the 2004 Gold Coast City Council election".

It recommended the state government consider prosecuting six people for alleged breaches of the Local Government Act 1993.

The six are Gold Coast Deputy Mayor David Power, Councillor Grant Pforr, Gold Coast businessman Lionel Barden, candidates Roxanne Scott and Brian Rowe, and Gold Coast lawyer Tony Hickey.

Mr Hickey and Mr Power are already facing charges under the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001, accused of giving the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) false or misleading information.

The CMC found a group of Gold Coast candidates was presented in false statements to the media as totally independent and funding their own campaign.

"In fact they were receiving funding through the initiative of sitting councillors David Power and (the late) Sue Robbins," the CMC said in a statement.

"The funding came exclusively from parties with development interests.

"If elected, the candidates would be, consciously or unconsciously, beholden to Cr Power and Cr Robbins."

CMC chairman Robert Needham said that while lying to the media was not generally an offence, false statements made by some candidates during the election substantially had corrupted the electoral process.

"The public was forced to go to the polls not knowing the truth about issues that were of legitimate public interest," Mr Needham said.

The CMC made 19 recommendations calling for sweeping changes to local government electoral processes, including disclosure before an election of election gifts received by candidates and councillors.

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