An interesting issue is the number of Councillors that declare or fail to declare a non-pecuniary interest. Meaning they did not personally benefit financially when voting on Development Applications (DA’s). Councillors often declare a non-pecuniary interest by stating “the DA applicant attended a fund raising event for their political party” and remain in chambers, vote on the DA and determine its outcome which is usually in favour of the applicant. Personally I believe that is a blatant abuse of Councillor responsibility. By definition attending a fund raising event is considered a “donation”.
It is debateable whether or not an individual member of a political party benefits directly from donations to their Party, particularly when that party receives donations to its head office and then “redistributes” those same amounts back to their branches. I perceive that to be a financial benefit to all Party members. I also believe that involved Councillors should not be allowed to vote on relevant DA’s where they have directly or indirectly received a financial benefit which contributed to their election campaign. The effect of that may cause problems due to the inability to form a quorum and needs to be addressed by the NSW Department Of Local Government.
Note: The state Government is setting up a task force into Political Donations via a Panel of Experts – Political Donations
Submissions are called for and due by the 17th of September 2014. I would urge all concerned residents and ratepayers to contribute so that we can remove any obvious bias that is currently the subject of several ICAC inquiries and the subsequent resignations of several high ranking NSW Politicians.
Click on link below for additional submission details.