Councillor Greg Chippendale and Mayor Allan Sutherland.
Councillor Greg Chippendale and Mayor Allan Sutherland. Jorge Branco

CMC won't take action against Allan Sutherland

UPDATE 5pm: Queensland's public sector watchdog will not investigate the actions of Moreton Council mayor Allan Sutherland, despite recordings purportedly implicating him in planning the destruction of a rival.

A spokeswoman for the watchdog said after carefully considering the allegations made public on Thursday, it found it could take no action.

Whatever Cr Sutherland's intentions, it did not equate to breaching the Crime and Misconduct Act, which would be akin to a criminal offence.

"The allegations do not fall within the CMC's jurisdiction and the CMC is unable to take any action," she said.

The CMC also found a complaint referred to the CMC regarding then Moreton Bay councillor Chris Whiting failing to update his donation register - a complaint made by developer David Trask - was not found to be a vexatious complaint.

 

LATEST:   MORETON mayor Allan Sutherland has denied any knowledge or involvement an alleged plot involving a developer to set up his rival over a campaign donation.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, the mayor said it was a matter between former councillor Chris Whiting and his financial supporters.

"The payment of the donation, and the reasons for the donation, were a matter solely for the donor," Cr Sutherland said in the statement.

"The matter first came to my attention only after the payment had been paid to Mr Whiting's account.

"In terms of Mr Whiting's campaign, the processing and declaration of donations was a matter for Mr Whiting."

A spokesman for the mayor said Cr Sutherland was not expected to make further comment today despite requests for interview.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Greg Chippendale said councilors would likely want their own questions answered when they met for budget discussions in Brisbane today.

Cr Chippendale said allegations published against the mayor reflected poorly not just on Moreton Bay, but on all councils, as people thought all councilors and councils acted in the same way.

But he stopped short of calling for an investigation into the claims or for the resignation of the mayor.

"The only people who could confirm it one way or another are the parties involved," Cr Chippendale said.

"I don't want to comment on speculation.

"You have to wait until things play themselves out.

"The CMC are seen as an adjudicator in these sort of matters."

The council is currently holding budget discussions in Strathpine.

Cr Chippendale campaigned with Mayor Sutherland under the "Moreton First" banner at the last election in opposition to Cr Whiting.

What the mayor allegedly said on on April 12, 2012 just before being returned at the election

"He was paid the money because we thought he wouldn't check who it was from and he didn't.

"We thought as soon as soon as he started bitching about me taking developer's donations, he's in the trap.

"But the bonus to us was he still hasn't declared it.

"It begs the question who else hasn't he disclosed? Surely it couldn't just be ours.

"This is going to be an absolute bomb that's going to go off next week."

>> You can listen to the secret recording here

Up to others to decide on Sutherland, says former CEO

 

UPDATE: MORETON Bay Regional Council's former CEO says it is up to others to decide whether mayor Allan Sutherland was involved in a conspiracy to set up his mayoral rival.

 John Rauber has told APN he was contacted by developer David Trask, who asked to confirm a donation the developer made to Cr Chris Whiting's mayoral campaign.

Mr Rauber, speaking from his home in Grafton, said he recalled Mr Trask contacting him to say he had made a donation to the councillor's campaign against incumbent mayor Allan Sutherland but that the funds did not appear to have been recorded.

"He asked, 'What should I do?'," Mr Rauber said.

"I would have told him, 'If you have a problem, put it in writing'."

The complaint was later received then referred to the CMC by Mr Rauber.

The former council executive said he saw nothing unusual about a donor wanting to be recognised for having help fund a campaign.

He said Cr Sutherland had - in Mr Rauber's time as chief executive - been a good mayor.

When asked if any claims or allegations had been made against Cr Sutherland, he said, "Over that first four years, there were lots of claims made against the mayor".

Mr Rauber said Cr Whiting still needed to have declared his donors as part of the election campaign.

"Anybody who receives a donation through the campaign has to declare that donation," he said.

"That's clear cut.

"The issue (being reported) is questioning whether there was any conspiracy. That is for others to determine."

Mayor Sutherland and Cr Whiting have each been sought for comment.

Should Moreton mayor Allan Sutherland be forced to stand down?

This poll ended on 23 May 2013.

Current Results

Yes. The recording says it all

81%

No. They haven't proven anything yet

6%

No. It's just politics. It happens all the time

12%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

'Moreton mayor in plot to set up rival in money trap'

A SECRET recording has revealed how the mayor of one of Queensland's biggest councils conspired with a property developer to set up his political rival in a "trap" laid just weeks before he won the last election.

News Ltd reports the Caboolture-based Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland plotted to damage the chances of his main political opponent, Chris Whiting, during last year's council election campaign.

It involved developer David Trask - one of the Mayor's biggest financial donors with brother Bob Trask - electronically depositing a $1000 donation to Mr Whiting's campaign under the name of a landscaping company he owned.

The plot was designed to neutralise expected complaints from Mr Whiting of Cr Sutherland taking developer donations.

Both David Trask and Cr Sutherland then kept close watch on Mr Whiting's donation disclosures to ensure it was logged.

When Mr Whiting missed the deadline a complaint was lodged with the Crime and Misconduct Commission just before the election.

Cr Sutherland has denied being involved in any plot or even taking the complaint to the council's CEO to prompt the CMC complaint.

Candidate Chris Whiting
Candidate Chris Whiting

At the time, Cr Whiting cried foul, describing the complaint as desperate and under-handed.

The complaint involved a $1000 donation made online through PayPal to Cr Whiting's election campaign from Moreton Bay Landscaping, a company whose telephone number had been disconnected but named a Matthew Fox as its contact.

Candidates have 30 days to declare donations.

Cr Whiting told APN at the time he was nearly a week late in registering it as he was in the middle of a hectic campaign, which he had been running by himself, but had since apologised and rectified the oversight.

Cr Whiting learned last weekend that David and Bob Trask were the directors of Moreton Bay Landscaping, while Matthew Fox, of Moreton Bay Landscaping, was the chief financial officer for Trask Corporation.

Trask Corporation was the major backer of Mayor Allan Sutherland in the 2008 elections.

Neither David Trask nor his brother Bob was available for comment at the time but Mr Fox said the organisation had donated to the campaigns of both Sutherland and Whiting.

Last week's CMC complaint against Cr Whiting originated from the council's headquarters and attached to it were copies of Cr Whiting's automated PayPal payment confirmation and personal thank you email to Moreton Bay Landscaping.

Cr Whiting said how MBRC came to be in possession of copies of these documents had not been explained.

"I simply overlooked the declaration date under the pressure of handling all my election press and communications by myself," he said.



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