This speech is in relation to the Development (Political Donations) Amendment Bill. This bill has been proposed to address corruption, perceived corruption or potential corruption involving development. The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK expresses that the Liberal Party do not support the bill.
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 9 April 2008. Page 2347.)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (23:16): This bill has been proposed to address corruption, perceived corruption or potential corruption involving development. There are two aspects in relation to corruption: the actual corruption that may take place and the perceived corruption that may arise from conflicts of interest, not necessarily being on the take and so forth.
In his second reading contribution, the Hon. Mark Parnell made the comparison with New South Wales, which has had a fair circus of goings-on with developments in the Wollongong City Council area. He stated that the two reasons that that level of corruption would not happen in South Australia were that we had independent development assessment panels and that our councils were inherently less political. I tend to agree with him that those arguments do not necessarily substantiate our not being concerned about potential levels of corruption.
This bill will, in effect, force property developers to disclose all donations to political parties when lodging development applications, and it would apply only to applications of greater than $4 million or those including a subdivision of 10 or more plots, and they would be accompanied by a statutory declaration. The honourable member states that he does not oppose donations to political parties from developers and that his proposal is that a zoning change or a development application will trigger the need to disclose.
We have disclosure laws imposed by our electoral legislation, and one may argue whether or not they are adequate. However, the Liberal Party views this measure as targeting one industry, whereas, in fact, this may occur in other industries. I will give one example, which I have not been able to substantiate. I have certainly been told that the waste industry in South Australia may be subject to some corruption, and the allegation is made that some of the shonky operators who stockpile materials so that they can avoid paying the solid waste levy are close to senior people in this Labor government.
I raise it to state that, while there may be more opportunities for developers, I do not think it is good practice to target a particular industry. Also, our official stance as a party is that we support the establishment of an ICAC, which would be able to refer any issues to that process. I think it is important to have a process such as an ICAC because one may raise, on the one hand, a developer having a successful application and, on the other hand, reporting the particular donations and the dollar value of those donations, and that gives a perception that there is a conflict of interest.
If we were to have an ICAC it would solve that problem because there would be an established process that everybody would know about. Rather than implying, through raising the issue of the successful application and the amount of the donation (which implies that there might be a perceived or an actual conflict of interest), an ICAC would be a well-accepted way by which anybody who had concerns would be able to have those concerns investigated. With those brief words, I indicate that the Liberal Party does not support the bill.