Probe is welcomed
By YVONNE McLEAN
THIS week's sudden and dramatic announcement that the Crime and Misconduct Commission will conduct a public inquiry into alleged failure of some councillors to declare the source of election funding, in kind support and developer links have been mainly welcomed from within and without the council.
The general opinion on the sudden turn of events after a CMC hearing on concerned submissions from community groups and Cr Peter Young is it will clear the air after 18 months of council unrest.
The terms of reference to the public inquiry to be conducted by CMC chairman Robert Needham are yet to be finalised.
While the inquiry has been welcomed, councillors from the Mayor Ron Clarke down have insisted they have nothing to hide.
Cr Young, whose submission to Local Government Minister Desley Boyle contributed to the CMC inquiry has always maintained his actions were in the public interest.
He said he hoped the terms of reference would be wide.
"This is a great opportunity for the public to come forward and speak of their concerns and ultimately, they, the public, will be the judge," Cr Young said.
However according to lawyer, former Gold Coast mayor and former member for Surfers Paradise, Lex Bell, the amalgamation of the Albert Shire Council and the Gold Coast Council into the one huge conglomerate a decade ago was partly to blame for the present problems.
"This council is like chalk and cheese," Mr Bell said.
"It is for the public good that the inquiry is to be held."
Mr Bell said wherever he moved on the Gold Coast he was aware of community unrest, a great disquiet over the behaviour in the present council.
"In the past we're had some winning times, but not like this this. In the past there has been some attempt to find a middle ground, an attempt missing now."
Mr Bell said he believed the outcome would have an effect on other local authorities.
One of the council's longestserving members and a voice of reason, Cr Daphne McDonald said the public inquiry just had to happen for the city's future,
"Continual rumour and innuendo are very disturbing. I believe the State Government needs to take a long, hard look at its legislation governing the declaration of election funds. I just hope the public inquiry is one where statements are made under oath. I'm very confident of a constructive result," she said.