Electoral commissioner: 'complaints significantly higher'

18th April 2017 3:37 PM
MAYOR ELECT: Allan Sutherland has been relected as MBRC mayor.Photo Rachel Lang / Caboolture News Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland has been called as a witness by the Crime and Corruption Commission. Rachel Lang

THE Queensland electoral commissioner has told the corruption watchdog 'the level of complaints were significantly higher' at the 2016 Moreton Bay Regional Council local elections than previous years, prompting an investigation.

Walter van der Merwe was the first witness to face questions on day one of the Operation Belcarra's public hearing as the Crime and Corruption Commission investigates the conduct of candidates from Moreton Bay Region, Gold Coast and Ipswich City councils.

But Mr van der Merwe said he was unable to discern why the number of complaints had risen so dramatically.

"The number of complaints were significantly higher than I experienced in 2012," he said.

"A number of those complaints weren't necessarily against all council areas; they were focused down the Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Gold Coast.

"Some of those allegations I thought were reasonably significant and needed a review, and that's why we're here today."

The hearing aims to investigate issues regarding disclosure of donations, undisclosed groups of candidates running in ways which assisted each other and perceived corrupt practises.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland was supposed to face questions tomorrow, but will instead appear on Friday along with Division 2 councillor Peter Flannery.

Deputy Mayor Mike Charlton is still set to face questions tomorrow.

Trustees of Mr Sutherland's biggest political donation fund in 2012 and 2016, Moreton Bay Futures Trust will front the CCC on Thursday.

The public hearing will be lived streamed and can be viewed at http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/corruption/operation-belcarra-public-hearing/operation-belcarra-public-hearings.

The first round of witnesses conclude on Friday and the hearing will recommence from April 26-28.