Secret Lib talks to ban developers from councils

 

Secret talks are under way to block developers from running for council with senior Liberals discussing the option of legislating a ban.

As revealed by The Sauce last week, a motion backed by both the moderates and Right faction members was put to the NSW Liberal State Executive last Friday for the party to use its own powers to stop developers from running as endorsed Liberals.

However, the bid - supported by Premier Gladys Berejiklian - was blocked by Centre Right powerbroker Alex Hawke, who is Prime Minister Scott Morrison's representative on the committee.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian Picture: Bianca De Marchi
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian Picture: Bianca De Marchi

Mr Hawke argued the party should first seek legal advice given party officials had previously raised constitutional issues.

While the motion failed, The Sauce has confirmed talks are ongoing among several senior Liberals with legislation among options being explored.

It is understood any draft legislation would likely have the support of Labor and the Greens. One of the problems is how to define "developer".

NSW Liberal Party State director Chris Stone recently raised the difficulty for parties in identifying developers in meeting the prohibited donor regulations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his representative on the NSW Liberal State Executive Alex Hawke. Picture: Kym Smith
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his representative on the NSW Liberal State Executive Alex Hawke. Picture: Kym Smith

In a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters last October, Mr Stone suggested a searchable database of pending development applications be established which also contained details of the applicants.

"Identification of prohibited donors, especially property developers, continues to be difficult and problematic for registered political parties," Mr Stone wrote.

"Ascertaining the bona fides of prospective or actual donors requires substantial resources and even then, it is not possible to entirely mitigate risk given the disparate information available in the public domain relating to development applications made to the 129 councils across NSW.

"This places a significant compliance burden on registered political parties."

A senior Liberal source said it was still "early days" but talk of legislation was "absolutely under way".

"There are definitely talks, and it is likely the matter will again be raised at the next executive meeting," a Liberal source said.

"It is a problem that is not going away and there are Liberals that want it sorted before the local government elections in September."


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