Warren Polglase, who was first to give evidence at the public inquiry yesterday, takes a stand for what he believes in.
Warren Polglase, who was first to give evidence at the public inquiry yesterday, takes a stand for what he believes in.

No conflict of interest



TWEED mayor Warren Polglase had no idea who the contributors to his $22,000 election campaign were before reading about them in a newspaper following the election, he said under oath yesterday.

Denying rumours of a conflict of interest, Cr Polglase said his electoral funding by Tweed Directions was given without any conditions and did not constitute a conflict.

"I don't accept that at all. I have never been involved in that sort of thing in my local government career of some 19 years," he said.

"The money was made available by Tweed Directions to support the candidates that supported .?.?. opportunities for the Tweed."

Cr Polglase approached Tweed Directions for the funding because he knew it was expensive to run a campaign, but made no commitments to the company for the future.

He denied he suffered a conflict of interest when he continued to make decisions on development applications after he found out the identities of the donors.

"You are drawing a long bow to suggest the Tweed Shire Council is seen to be supporting those kind of people (developers)," he said.

"All major developments have been determined by the state government."

In response, commissioner Maurice Daly asked why the developers would put the money out there if there was no return.

He suggested any average person would assume donors developing the lucrative coastline along the Tweed would expect a favour.

"Tweed Directions gave your group $22,000 and your six candidates contributed $246.63. Wouldn't people see a connection that people were getting elected without putting any real money behind the process?" he asked.

Earlier in the day, Cr Polglase revealed he had entered into private meetings with developers and council staff on several occasions over the years.

"It is a mayor's role to be actively involved in the processes," he said.

"My role is to listen to the debate involved so I am better informed."

These meetings did not influence him to become an advocate of any applications, he said, but demonstrated his "open-door policy" to all.

"I see no problem in sitting down and talking to these people. I believe it makes council better," he said.



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