Top council staffer’s holiday on developer’s yacht
A council near Brisbane is reviewing its gifts policy after a senior staff member posted photos of herself holidaying on a developer's 33 metre superyacht to social media.
Moreton Bay Regional Council manager for development services Kate Isles toured the Whitsundays in November 2018 aboard BMD Group managing director Mick Power's boat.
She posted multiple photos of the trip to Facebook with the caption "Going offline for a while!! Whitsundays await".
Ms Isles was named the Australian Planner of the Year at the 2017 National Planning Excellence Awards and was Queensland president of Planning Institute of Australia for three years.
A council spokesman said the trip was a gift to Ms Isles' husband Chris, who is executive director of planning at Brisbane-based Place Design Group.
Place Design Group developed council's Redcliffe Foreshore Master Plan, which Ms Isles declared a conflict of interest in 2018, and has multiple projects across the region.
"Council's manager of development services Kate Isles declared that her husband had received a gift from BMD Group and that she would be attending as his guest," the spokesman said.
"Council employees have a responsibility to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of council administration.
"All staff are required to declare receipt of any gifts with a market value above $100."
BMD Group operates five seperate construction and planning companies with a combined annual turnover of more than $1 billion in the 2017-18 financial year.
It was responsible for the $1.5 billion Brisbane Legacy Way tunnel and founder Mr Power is on the board of directors at the Brisbane Lions.
He has several developments in Moreton Bay such as Mango Hill estate Capestone, under its residential and commercial development arm Urbex.
The council spokesman confirmed Ms Isles would be required to declare a conflict of interest on any future BMD Group development applications and the council would be reviewing its Gifts, Sponsored Hospitality Benefits, Awards & Prizes policy.
It comes after the state government cracked down on council transparency following the Crime and Corruption Commission's (CCC) Operation Belcarra in 2018.
"In light of the State Government's legislative changes last year, a review of council's policy is timely to ensure its applicability is consistent with these new provisions," he said.
"Council's current policy reflects the provisions of the Local Government Act 2009 and Local Government Regulation 2012."
When asked if council would be investigating whether Ms Isles gave favourable decisions to BMD Group applications, the spokesman said: "the matter continues to be reviewed, with the staff member having returned from leave (Wednesday)".
The state government said it was unaware of any legislative breaches by Ms Isles, but would allow the council conduct its own review.
The review is due to begin next week.