City of Gold Coast Council is under further pressure to suspend the sell-off of Bruce Bishop car park, with the sale now at the centre of a probe by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
The CCC announced last Friday that it had launched an investigation into allegations of corrupt conduct relating to decisions made by some Gold Coast councillors.
It said the allegations involved possible conflicts of interest on a range of development matters.
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A complaint was lodged with The CCC last year by Save Surfers Paradise, which raised concerns about the conduct of Mayor Tom Tate and CEO Dale Dickson.
Save Surfers Paradise Secretary, Deborah Kelly says part of the complaint revolves around Mayor Tate’s personal material interest in a neighbouring site.
“Everybody knows that he and his business partners own a fairly major building development site next door so obviously the impact of the sale of the Bruce Bishop affects that property in a myriad of ways,” Ms Kelly said.
The complaint also alleges Mayor Tate made misleading statements about funding for the Cultural Precinct which would come from the sale of the car park.
“I stress that these are allegations at this stage, they are not proven facts and we have to wait until the outcome of the investigation,” Ms Kelly said.
The CCC is also set to investigate allegations that Mr Dickson failed to correct false and misleading statements about the funding of the Cultural Precinct.
The probe has increased calls for the sale process to be halted.
“Because of the allegations that have been made both Councillor Tate and CEO Dickson must distance themselves from the decisions and the court proceedings that are underway and, really, Council has no choice now but to put the whole thing on hold until the investigation is dealt with by the CCC,” Ms Kelly said.
A motion to suspend the sale pending the outcome of legal action was voted down by Council last month.
Save Surfers Paradise says councillors should now reconsider their position.
“It wouldn’t be proper for them to proceed in any way with this sale while the matters that we have complained of are being investigated by The CCC and any councilors who voted at this stage to move ahead and sign a contract would be putting themselves in peril and may find that they will be held personally liable from any costs and damages that result from a disappointed buyer,” Ms Kelly said.
City of Gold Coast Council has previously refused to comment on the investigation.