Ray of hope leaves media pack wanting
The disappointment was palpable when big-business developer Brian Ray concluded giving his hotly-anticipated evidence to the inquiry into the Tweed Shire Council yesterday.
A suit jacket slung casually across his shoulder and a roguish smile upon his face, Mr Ray arrived at the inquiry to a welcome akin to a visiting celebrity.
But when he left it was to a media scrum wanting more answers than he gave to inquiry commissioner Maurice Daly.
Professor Daly quizzed Mr Ray over his involvement with Tweed Directions, who funded a selection of candidate's election campaigns in 2004, and any donations he had made to the group.
Mr Ray revealed he donated a sum of money to the group but wanted it back when the campaign got dirty.
"I did it for the same reason I contribute to political parties on a state and federal level - I need to use my influence to see the outcomes I believe can happen," he said.
"I asked for my contributions to be returned because in my view the advertising and approach taken by the group running the campaign was one derogatory of individuals.
"I thought that was very unhelpful in what we were trying to do in this place. I thought they should be trying to sell some of the objectives I'm talking about developing without losing the pristine environment."
Mr Ray charmed the large audience that had gathered with his sociallymotivated plans to establish a "smart community" on the Tweed to generate long-term jobs and growth.
"The role of the property developer is to have an effect," he said.
"A developer brings the resources to make things happen."
Outside the inquiry he acknowledged with a shrug there had been no contro- versy in his evidence and said he was unable to understand why there had been a surge in interest in local-election funding.
"This happens universally. It is the way the place runs," he said.
He claimed the inquiry had been factionally-motivated and had slowed council processes down.
"Everyone is looking to cover their backs and it has slowed the process down, which is a detriment to the people of the Tweed.
"I'm not concerned how it affects our business, but there is this perception about the place," he said.
"Once you have a commission it is an almost universal belief there must be something wrong, and I think that is bad for the place."