THE NSW Electoral Commission will investigate donations made to former Tweed Shire Council mayor Warren Polglase during the 2008 local government elections.
In his declaration to the NSW Election Funding Authority, Cr Polglase did not disclose donations from property developer Godfrey Mantle. He claims he was not required to disclose them.
In his private company returns, Mr Mantle revealed his group gave $5000 to Cr Polglase, a staunch National supporter, in six separate donations on September 12, 2008, a day before polling. They included five amounts of $900 and one of $500. Records show he also made a dozen donations to the NSW ALP.
NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly visited the Tweed last month to approve Mr Mantle’s $1.4 billion development of 1800 homes, a retail precinct, nursing home, schools and accommodation.
Cr Polglase, who lost the mayoralty last month when the seven councillors voted to install a new mayor, headed the 2004 council that was sacked by Mr Kelly when he was local government minister.
It followed an inquiry by Professor Maurice Daly who found that an organisation known as Tweed Directions created a $660,000-plus developer-funded slush fund to secure a pro-development majority.
Mr Kelly placed the council into the hands of administrators who included Lucy Turnbull, wife of federal Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, and former Tweed Shire president Max Boyd.
Cr Polglase has denied any wrongdoing over his 2008 election campaign returns because none of the donations were more than $1000 and they were made by six different companies.
“I am not required to disclose donations under $1000 if they come from different sources and in this case they did,” he said. “I have taken legal advice on this matter and . . . everything is above board.”
Cr Polglase told the Election Funding Authority he did not spend any money on advertising, posters, placards, how-to-vote cards or T-shirts at the election but this week’s Tweed Echo reported: “Yet many of these items spontaneously appeared, as if by magic, and ushered him on to victory.”
Jeremy Cornford, a spokesman for the Tweed Monitor community group, said all six companies belonged to the Brisbane-based Mantle group and Godfrey Mantle had signed off on every donation.
A spokesman for NSW Electoral Commissioner Colin Barry said the commission would make inquiries into the matter.
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