Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mayor requests probe into developer donations claims against him

Mayor requests probe into developer donations claims against him

Logan Mayor Luke Smith. Picture: Richard Walker
  • The Australian
The mayor of southeast Queensland’s Logan City has asked for an independent investigation into allegations he facilitated a Chinese property developer in its plans to construct a mega-resort in a koala habitat, before taking more than $60,000 in political donations from the group.
Responding to the allegations, Logan Mayor Luke Smith told The Australian he would ask the Local Government Association of Queensland — a body made up of the state’s councils — to investigate his connections to the development “since receiving donations”.
Mr Smith did not deny the claims but said The Australian’s questions “appear to be inspired by an orchestrated and malicious campaign by political opponents to discredit my name”.
“To further combat any claim of wrongdoing, I have asked the Local Government Association of Queensland to conduct an independent review to confirm my absolute and total recusal of The Lakes development since receiving donations,” he said.
Developer Liansheng Yue and his son Terry Yue have applied to build a $750 million, 1500-plus unit resort called The Lakes, on a 22ha parcel of farmland land they bought for $843,000 in 2009.
In September, after it emerged that Mr Liansheng Yue had donated $63,300 to Mr Smith’s election campaign via a private company, commercial real estate agent Jason Luckhardt of NAI Harcourts raised concerns in a letter to his local member, Michael Di Brenni. Mr Luckhardt said that in mid-2014, when Mr Smith was a Logan councillor, he received a call from him seeking to show a “Chinese associate” through a property he had on the market for sale or lease.
Mr Smith, Liansheng Yue and Terry Yue then visited the commercial building at 3912 Pacific Highway, Loganholme, and said they were looking to use the premises to build a display apartment to market the Yues planned development at Carbrook, now named The Lakes. Following the viewing, Mr Luckhardt said he was invited to lunch with the group at a nearby yum cha restaurant, which he accepted. “There was an extensive discussion as to the possibility of large advertising being placed on the building that could be seen from the M1 (motorway),” Mr Luckhardt wrote to Mr Di Brenni, the member for Springwood.
Mr Luckhardt wrote that “there has obviously been a long-term association here between the parties”.
Mr Smith said the LGAQ investigation was expected to be completed early this week.
Logan City council is expected to vote tomorrow on final approval for The Lakes project, which was opposed by 28 of 29 respondents who made public submissions.