Iemma's new donation rules

Photo: Bob Pearce

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Wollongong developer Frank Vellar leaving ICAC in Sydney. Hear phone calls
Multimedia: Hear the phone calls made between developer Frank Vellar and other parties.

Paul Bibby
February 28, 2008

Individual MPs would be banned from receiving donations and all developers would have to make their political donations public every time they submitted a DA, under changes to the political donation system proposed by NSW Premier Morris Iemma today.

But the NSW Opposition said the new laws did not go far enough and there was no time frame for implementing them.

Under the changes - to be put before the ongoing upper house inquiry into political donations - individual MPs, councillors and candidates would be banned from having personal campaign accounts.

Responsibility for administering and organising donations would be dealt with by each political party's central office.

The disclosure of donations would be undertaken twice a year, instead of once, with returns filed in June and December.

"This would give NSW the strictest regime in Australia in terms of disclosure to the community and the Parliament," Mr Iemma said during a fiery session of question time this afternoon.

"It would take control of donations out of the hands of individuals. They will not be permitted to organise or collect donations themselves."

To address corruption at the local government level, all developers submitting a development application to councils would be required to disclose all of their political donations, which would be made public when the DA is lodged.

Individual local councillors would also be open to greater scrutiny, with their voting history for development applications made public, and new guidelines introduced to make clearer what constitutes a conflict of interest.

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell took the unusual step of organising a press conference during question time to attack the proposed changes.

"We will support proposals that reduce the influence of money in NSW," Mr O'Farrell said.

"But these reforms are about being seen to do something. They do nothing about capping donations."

He called on the Premier to resign.

The criticisms came as the Opposition continued its attack on the alleged links between allegations of corruption at Wollongong Council and senior government figures Ports Minister Joe Tripodi and Police Minister David Campbell.

"Having sacked Port Macquarie-Hastings council for financial incompetence, will the Premier now sack the Ports Minister for his incompetence, or the Health Minister ... or the Planning Minister?" Nationals leader Andrew Stoner said.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner accused Health Minister Reba Meagher of "consistently failing to act" against Graeme Stephen Reeves, the South Coast doctor who was able to treat 36 obstetric patients at two South Coast hospitals despite being banned from the speciality five years ago, because the NSW Health Department failed to conduct background checks.

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