Blue Mountains City Council

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Councillor Declarations of Political Donations and Gifts

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  1. Councillor Declarations of Political Donations and Gifts
  2. Disclosure of Political Donations and Gifts
  3. What are political donations and gifts?
  4. Advice to Applicants / persons who have a financial interest in the development application
  5. Advice to persons making a submission on a development application
  6. How and when to make a disclosure
  7. Penalties for non-disclosure
  8. Public Access

In accordance with the Code of Conduct and the Department of Planning, Councillors are required to disclose Political Donations and Gifts when making decisions relating to planning and Development Applications.

Council manages this requirement in the following ways:

  • All Council Meeting minutes display Councillor voting patterns; and
  • Elected Members and candidates are required to complete the form Declaration of Political Donations and Electoral Expenditure by an Elected Member, Candidate or Group. This form is submitted to the Electoral Commission, as well as a held on a public register of Council. The Register is available for view by the public or other agency on request. This form is available for download, at right.

 

The circular, guidelines and legislation are available on the Department of Planning Website

 

Disclosure of Political Donations and Gifts

Legislative changes to the Local Government Act and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, effective from 1 October 2008, imposes obligations on applicants, those making submissions and decision makers in relation to the disclosure of information relating to reportable political donations and gifts during the planning making or development assessment process.

The legislative amendments relate to the disclosure of reportable political donations for State elections and elected members of NSW Parliament, and local government elections and elected members of councils. They are intended to assist in identifying any potential or actual conflict of interest. These disclosures will be made available to the public by arrangement with Council staff.

These requirements apply to all development applications or submissions made after the commencement of the amendments to the Act (from 1 October 2008), and extends to any political donations or gifts made before the commencement of the amendments.

What are political donations and gifts?

The political donations and gifts have the same meaning as under the Election Funding and Disclosure Act, 1981.

A gift means:

  • The disposition of property made by a person to another person, otherwise than by will, being a disposition made without consideration in money or money’s worth or with inadequate consideration, and includes the provision of a service (other than volunteer labour) for no consideration or for inadequate consideration.

A reportable political donation is:

  • in the case of disclosures by a party, elected member, group or candidate - a political donation of or exceeding $1,000 made to or for the benefit of the party, elected member, group or candidate, or
  • in the case of disclosures by a major political party - a political donation of or exceeding $1,000:
    • made by the major political donor to or for the benefit of a party, elected member, group or candidate, or
    • made to the major political donor.

 

A political donation of less than $1,000 made by an entity or other person is to be treated as a reportable donation if that and other separate political donations made by the entity or other person to the same party, elected member, group, candidate or person within the same financial year (ending 30 June) would, If aggregated, constitute a reportable political donation.

A political donation of less than $1,000 made by an entity or other person to a party is to be treated as a reportable political donation if that and other separate political donations made by that entity or person to an associated party within the same financial year (ending 30 June) would, if aggregated, constitute a reportable political donation. However, this requirement does not apply in connection with disclosures of political donations by parties.

Parties are associated parties if endorsed candidates of both parties were included in the same group in the last periodic Council election or are to be included in the next periodic Council election.

A reportable political donation made to a local councillor includes a reference to a donation made at the time the person was a candidate for election to the council.

You may search for and view councillor political donations at the NSW Electoral Commission’s website.

Advice to Applicants / persons who have a financial interest in the development application

A person who makes a relevant planning application to a council is required to disclose the following reportable political donations and gifts (if any) made by any person with a financial interest in the application within the period commencing 2 years before the application is made and ending when the application is determined:

  • all reportable political donations made to any local councillor of that council;
  • all gifts made to any local councillor or employee of that council.

A reportable political donation made to a local councillor includes a reference to a donation made at the time the person was a candidate for election to the council.

A person has a financial interest in a planning application if:

  • the person is the applicant or the person on whose behalf the application is made, or
  • the person is an owner of the site to which the application relates or has entered into an agreement to acquire the site or any part of it, or
  • the person is associated with a person referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) and is likely to obtain a financial gain if development that would be authorised by the application is authorised or carried out (other than a gain merely as a shareholder in a company listed on a stock exchange), or
  • the person has any other interest relating to the application, the site or the owner of the site that is prescribed by the regulations. Note: At this stage there are no relevant regulations.

Persons are associated with each other if:

  • they carry on a business together in connection with the relevant planning application (in the case of the making of any such application) or they carry on a business together that may be affected by the granting of the application (in the case of a relevant planning submission), or
  • they are related bodies corporate under the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth, or one is a director of a corporation and the other is any related corporation or a director of any related corporation, or
  • they have any other relationship prescribed by the regulations. Note: At this stage there are no relevant regulations.

Advice to persons making a submission on a development application

A person who makes a relevant public submission to a council in relation to a relevant planning application made to the council is required to disclose the following reportable political donations and gifts (if any) made by the person making the submission or any associate of that person within the period commencing 2 years before the submission is made and ending when the application is determined:

  • all reportable political donations made to any local councillor of that council;
  • all gifts made to any local councillor or employee of that council.

A reportable political donation made to a local councillor includes a reference to a donation made at the time the person was a candidate for election to the council.

How and when to make a disclosure

If you are required to make a disclosure of a reportable political donation or gift under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, the disclosure is to be made at the same time you lodge a relevant planning application or make a submission in respect to such an application.

If a person makes a reportable political donation (or give gifts to councillors or council staff) after they have made an application or submission (but before the application is determined), that person will also be required to provide a disclosure within 7 days after the donation or gift is made.

Political Donations and Gifts Disclosure Statement form may be downloaded at right.

Penalties for non-disclosure

A person is guilty of an offence under section 125 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 in connection with the obligations under section 147 (Disclosure of political donations and gifts) if the person fails to make a disclosure of a political donation or gift in accordance with section 147 that the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, was made and is required to be disclosed under section 147 of the Act.

The maximum penalty for any such offence is the maximum penalty under Part 6 of the Election Funding and Disclosures Act 1981 for making a false statement in a declaration of disclosures under that Part. Currently the maximum penalty is 200 penalty points ($22,000) or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

Public Access

Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, disclosures of reportable political donations and gifts will be required to be made available to the public, by arrangement with the Public Officer.