Gold Coast mayor admits campaign funds breach
GOLD Coast Mayor Tom Tate has admitted he breached the local government election laws by failing to operate a separate bank account during last year's Gold Coast council elections.
Cr Tate told the Crime and Corruption Commission hearing that he paid for a majority of his campaign funds from a joint personal account he held with his wife.
His failure to use a separate bank account comes despite Cr Tate already having an account styled as the Tom Tate Mayoral Account.
The Local Government Electoral Act states all candidates must operate a separate bank account for all donations and payments relating to their campaign.
The maximum penalty for not doing so is 100 penalty units or a more than $12,000 fine.
Cr Tate's failure to use a separate bank account means the public cannot see who his suppliers were for the campaign.
This would include Shac Communications who also provided services for councillors Kristyn Boulton, Gary Baildon, Cameron Caldwell and failed division five candidate Felicity Stevenson.
He said the mayoral account was only set up if there was third party money coming in for expenditure.
The mayor told the hearing he did not believe moving his own money into a separate account gave any additional transparency.
Cr Tate said he did not see the problem as he entirely self-funded his $182,000 campaign.
However, other candidates who used their own money for the campaign did so by transferring the funds into their dedicated bank account before paying invoices
When asked why, as an experienced candidate who had contested two elections, he did not operate a separate account, the mayor said he simply was not aware he needed to until after the election.
The mayor was one of only a few candidate statewide who chose to entirely self fund his campaign.
"It makes it easier in your political life because you are not beholden to any donors," he said.
Cr Tate called self-funding of the campaign the best funding model for an election campaign but recognised not everyone could afford that.
"Maybe you can cap the funding required so it's more affordable," he said.
A part of his suggestion was for a $40,000 cap on councillor campaigns and a $100,000 cap on mayoral campaigns.
"You can have all the money you like but if the message is wrong people are not going to vote for you," he said.
The mayor also called for a $5000 limit on donations from a single donor.
The hearing also heard Cr Tate is a life member of the LNP but considers him self to "wear a gold tie for the Gold Coast".
He said the only way to get out of the LNP life membership was to die.