Political Donations and Gifts
As of 1 October 2008, state legislation now requires the public disclosure of donations or gifts when lodging or commenting on development proposals. This regulation is designed to improve the transparency of the planning system.
The law introduces disclosure requirements for individuals or entities with a relevant financial interest as part of the lodgement of:
- Various types of development proposals, or
- Requests to initiate environmental planning instruments or development control plans.
These disclosure requirements apply at the time of lodgement and during assessment of any planning applications to council or the NSW Government. Disclosure requirements also apply to individuals or entities lodging submissions in objection or support to the above types of proposals.
A person is required to disclose any reportable political donations and gifts (if any) made by any person with a financial interest in the application within the period commencing 2 years before the application is lodged and ending when the application is determined.
- All reportable political donations made to any local councillor of the council
- All gifts made to any local councillor or employee of that council.
A reportable political donation made to a local councillor or any local council includes any donation made at the time the person was a candidate for election to the council.
A relevant public submission means a written submission made by a person objecting to or supporting a planning application or and any development that would be authorised by the granting of the application.
How and when to make a disclosure
If you are required to make a disclosure of a reportable political donation or gift under the EP&A Act, the disclosure is to be made:
- In, or in a statement accompanying, the relevant planning application or submission if the donation or gift is made before the application or submission is made, or
- If the donation or gift is made afterwards, in a statement of the person to whom the relevant planning application or submission was made within 7 days after the donation or gift is made.
Note: Reportable political donations include those of or above $1000. A gift includes a gift of money or the provision of any other valuable thing or service for no consideration or inadequate consideration.
A person is guilty of an offence under section 125 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 in connection with the obligations under section 147 only if the person fails to make a disclosure of a political donation or gift in accordance with section 147 that the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, was made and is required to be disclosed under section 147.
The maximum penalty for any such offence is the maximum penalty under Part 6 of the Election Funding and Disclosures Act 1981 for making a false statement in a declaration of disclosures lodged under that Part. Note: The maximum penalty is currently 200 penalty units (currently $22,000) or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.
For further information, refer to the Department of Planning Circular PS 08_009, which is accessible at www.planning.nsw.gov.au
How to view the register of disclosures
Council maintains a register of reportable political donations and gifts when lodging or commenting on development proposals. Arrangements to view the register can be made by calling Council's Governance Officer on 9806 5313
Register of declarations for disclosure of political donations by Councillors is lodged with the Election Funding Authority and is available at http://www.efa.nsw.gov.au/view_disclosures.
Last updated on 03 Dec 2014