CMC clears Coast land deal

QUEENSLAND's crime watchdog has found no evidence of official misconduct involving the former deputy premier and lobbyists in relation to land at Palmwoods.

However, the Crime and Misconduct Commission has criticised record keeping for face to face meetings between lobbyists and departmental staff.

The CMC today released a report on its investigation into an allegation that a former Deputy Premier and professional lobbyist improperly influenced a review process which led to the inclusion of  land in the 2009 South East Queensland Regional Plan.

The CMC investigated the allegation following a media report which implied that certain parcels of land, owned by Terry Ell,  in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, were included in the ‘urban footprint’ of the 2009 SEQ plan after Mr Elder lobbied departmental officers.

CMC investigators interviewed key witnesses involved in the review process that led to the inclusion of land at Palmwoods and examined all available records relevant to the investigation.

The investigation showed that Mr Elder met regularly with the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, Gary White, to discuss planning issues, but only one of these meetings related directly to land at Palmwoods.

According to Mr White, an experienced planning professional, his recommendation for the inclusion of land at Palmwoods was on the basis of a written submission by the land holder who based his report on extensive technical data prepared by an urban development consultancy.  

The state government also requested that the CMC examine every instance in which an extension was made to the urban footprint of the 2009 SEQ plan to determine whether any individual had inappropriately influenced the review process.  

Previously, the CMC had investigated another land extension involving Terry Mackenroth as a lobbyist.

Apart from that matter and the one involving Mr Elder, departmental records showed that lobbyists made representations with respect to nine sites.

 Each representation was promoting an expansion to the urban footprint. No expansion was recommended in respect of any of these sites.

CMC Chairperson Robert Needham says while there is no evidence of inappropriate influence by any of the lobbyists, the department’s lack of record-keeping was cause for concern.

‘The department had formally and systematically recorded the names and addresses of more than 3500 individuals and organisations which had provided written submissions, but no process exists for oral representations.’

‘To ascertain which matters involved lobbyists the CMC had to rely on entries in personal diaries and the recall of individual departmental officers,’ Mr Needham said.

The CMC has recommended that the department urgently consider implementing a procedure where some written record of all communication with registered lobbyists and other interested parties is kept.

The investigative report is available on the CMC’s website – www.cmc.qld.gov.au.

Do you agree with the findings of the Crime and Misconduct Commission? What do you think? Leave your comments below...


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