Media Release: Hatton right to reject Tate as genuine independent, say Greens

2 November 2010

The rejection of Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate as part of the new independent network established by anti-corruption independent John Hatton exposes serious questions about Clr Tate’s claim to be a genuine independent candidate for the state seat of Newcastle, according to The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton.

“Mr Hatton is right to rule out endorsing Clr Tate as a genuinely independent candidate,” Mr Sutton said.

During a public meeting at Newcastle City Hall last night, Mr Hatton questioned Clr Tate’s record on accepting and disclosing political donations from developers and the alcohol industry, and his record on disclosing political donations as a councillor involved in development decisions.

At the meeting, Clr Tate defended his acceptance of such political donations on the grounds that he was “forced” to accept them in order to match the expenditure of the Labor candidate for Newcastle, Jodi McKay, and dismissed his censure by Newcastle Council for failing to adequately disclose political donations as “politically motivated.”

“Clr Tate was unable to deny the key facts of Mr Hatton’s allegations: that he had accepted substantial donations from developers and the alcohol industry, and that he had been censured by Newcastle council for failing to adequately disclose political donations on the basis of a recommendation by a legally qualified independent reviewer,” Mr Sutton said.

“It was clear from Clr Tate’s aggressive response to Mr Hatton last night that he doesn’t understand that there’s more to being a genuine independent than just ticking the required boxes on electoral funding disclosure forms, and that a true independent has to be free of the corrupting stench of political donations from vested interests.

“Clr Tate had a reputation as a genuine progressive community-based independent when I worked with him as a Newcastle councillor in the 1990s,” Mr Sutton said.

“However, Clr Tate has done a complete about-face since his election as Lord Mayor in 1999.

“Clr Tate now heads the most secretive, anti-democratic council in Newcastle’s recent history, and actively campaigns to unlock valuable Foreshore real estate in support of the developer-funded push to cut the city’s rail line.

“Mr Hatton understands, in a way that Clr Tate doesn’t, that ordinary people in the Newcastle community are entitled to ask whether Clr Tate’s stance on these issues has been influenced by the political donations he has received.

“Like other Greens candidates in the NSW election, I won’t be accepting any donations from any vested interests, and I’ll be declaring all donations over $50 as soon as possible on our public website, so that interested voters will know before election day exactly where every dollar spent in my election campaign comes from.

“I call on Clr Tate and any other candidate who wants to show that they are free from the corrupting influence of political donations from vested interests to do likewise,” Mr Sutton said.

For further information or comment, please contact John Sutton (Greens candidate for Newcastle), on 4969 2668 or 0411 154 004.

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