Still no action on Daly inquiry

TWO years and seven months after the Daly Inquiry led to the dismissal of Tweed Shire councillors, nothing has been done about the inquiry's key recommendations. The NSW government has not implemented the recommendations to ban sacked councillors from standing for re-election and to force public disclosures before polling day of developers and anyone else who funds council candidates. Warren Polgase, who was mayor when the council was sacked in May 2005, yesterday declared he would have "no problem" with even a "blanket ban" on developers funding candidates' election campaigns, although a ban could preclude some people with no other sources of campaign funding from running for %council. But Mr Polglase, who told the Tweed Daily News on Wednesday he was keeping his options open about his political future and has maintained his council never acted improperly, believes the sacked councillors should be allowed to seek re-election. Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the state government's "hasty dismissal" of the council, recommended by Commissioner Maurice Daly, and the subsequent refusal to implement Mr Daly's other key recommendations, suggests the sacking was "politically motivated". Mr Daly, who was critical of the relationship between developers and the Tweed Shire councillors, made 24 recommendations in his second report to the government in August 2005, including that sacked councillors be banned from seeking re-election and that all electoral donations be declared five days before a council election. Mr Daly's earlier first report recommended simply that the councillors be sacked. After solicitor and now Resort Corp director Paul Brinsmead, son of sacked councillor Bob Brinsmead, obtained a Supreme Court ruling in his favour in March this year in relation to Mr Daly's findings against him, the Daly Inquiry second report, which contained Mr Daly's key recommendations and also referred to Mr Brinsmead, was removed from the NSW Local Government Department website. Another of the sacked councillors, Dot Holdom, said that despite Mr Brinsmead's court ruling, Mr Daly's recommendations were far reaching and %applied to all NSW councillors and developers. Mrs Holdom believes developers should be prevented from funding council candidates' campaigns. "Mr Daly wanted to kick the Local Government Act into the 21st century," Mrs Holdom said. As well, Mr Polglase said Opposition MP John Turner, who was local government spokesman until April this year, had advised him that the Independent Commission Against Corruption had forwarded its response to the Daly Inquiry findings back to the government, but no details of the ICAC findings have been released. An ICAC spokeswoman yesterday told the Tweed Daily News the commission did not comment on such matters. The Premier's office referred inquiries to Local Governnment Department director general Garry Payne, who is also a Tweed Shire administrator. Mr Payne said the Daly Inquiry second report was taken off the department website on legal advice after Mr Brinsmead's court judgment. He said a whole-of-government response to the Daly Inquiry recommendations was "reasonably close" to completion, with input from the Local Government Department, NSW Planning, the State Electoral Commission and some other agencies. The Premier's Department and Premier Morris Iemma would probably co-ordinate the whole-of-government response and any action to be implemented based on Mr Daly's recommendations, Mr Payne said. Mr Daly did not respond to a request for comment.



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