Pressure on council probe



ESSURE is mounting on Queensland's corruption watchdog to broaden its public inquiry into the Gold Coast City Council to include a sweeping review of laws governing political donations.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) announced on Tuesday it would hold a public hearing into the Gold Coast City Council, which has been dogged in recent months by allegations of corruption.

Local Government Association executive director Greg Hallam yesterday submitted the request for an expanded hearing to the CMC.

"They haven't set out their terms of reference yet so we are asking that a review of laws governing political donations and disclosures ... be included," he said.

Meanwhile, Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg yesterday suggested the government had pressured the CMC into holding the public hearing now to detract from the Dr Death inquiry as it prepares to report its findings into the State's health system.

"From our perspective this has been about diversions for (Beattie) rather than about developers," he said.

"I hope that this inquiry has been established for the right reasons but I doubt it has been based on the information I have received from a Labor insider over the last couple of weeks."

Mr Springborg rejected suggestions that his allegations were based on rumour. He said a "very, very strong Labor insider" had told him of the gov- ernment's desire to detract from the Dr Death inquiry. Both Local Government Minister Desley Boyle and Premier Peter Beattie yesterday dismissed the allegations as nonsense.

CMC chairman Robert Needham said he would oversee the inquiry into councillors at the Gold Coast City Council over the "possible misleading of voters, alleged breaches of the provisions dealing with the disclosures of election gifts and possible failures to declare material personal interests". - AAP



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