NEWCASTLE’S Labor councillors have joined moves by the Greens, calling on lord mayor Jeff McCloy to stand down until the ongoing ICAC inquiry is finalised.
‘‘Cr McCloy stood down the art gallery director amid various allegations, saying that council had a responsibility to act ethically and properly in respect of the allegations,’’ Labor councillor and state political aspirant Tim Crakanthorp said. ‘‘Cr McCloy should do the same.’’
As reported on Tuesday, the Greens’ Therese Doyle and Michael Osborne announced their intention to raise the matter formally in a notice of motion at the council’s next meeting on August 26.
Cr Doyle recited a comment she said Cr McCloy made at a recent meeting regarding the council’s controversial sacking of art gallery director Ron Ramsey and senior council manager Judy Jaeger.
‘‘He said it’s very important for people in public office to do the right thing, be seen doing the right thing and to uphold the law,’’ Cr Doyle said. ‘‘He should take his own advice.’’
Cr McCloy has so far remained defiant, telling the Herald he will not stand down. He says he has done nothing wrong and will state his case when he appears before the ICAC next Thursday.
'I have done nothing wrong' - Jeff McCloy
By JASON GORDON Aug. 6, 2014, 10 p.m.
THE buzzards might have been circling above the ICAC hearing yesterday, but the Jeff McCloy camp was circling the wagons.
‘‘I will not be standing down,’’ the lord mayor told the Newcastle Herald. ‘‘I have not done anything wrong. I have never sought any favours and I have never got any favours.
‘‘I want my day in the witness box. I’m looking forward to it.’’
The pictures painted by the ICAC yesterday weren’t pretty for the independent lord mayor and prominent developer, with his critics renewing calls for him to step down from public office following allegations that he not only made an illegal donation to the campaign of state Newcastle MP Tim Owen, but also made a cash donation through Charlestown Liberal Andrew Cornwell.
Cr McCloy has strongly denied that any money was knowingly donated to either campaign. In his opening address yesterday, counsel assisting the inquiry Geoffrey Watson said Mr Cornwell would give evidence that while he accepted $10,000 from Cr McCloy (before he was mayor), no favours were asked for or given.
In regards to the money’s purpose, the ICAC was told that Cr McCloy had a different version of events. Cr McCloy would not comment on that claim yesterday, saying he would save his response for the witness box.
The somewhat eccentric developer has a reputation for pulling $10,000 from his own pocket, but not always with questionable intentions.
While he fought a high-profile battle for a residential development at Green Point more than a decade ago, he also gained notoriety for his random donations to charity which are counted in millions.
He famously wrote a $1million cheque for the Salvation Army in 2006 and donates his entire mayoral allowance to charities in $10,000 lots, most recently handing over $10,000 to injured Newcastle Knight Alex McKinnon.
Electoral funding records show he made significant donations to both Labor and Liberal parties before developers were banned from doing so, and funded community campaigns aimed at ‘‘making Newcastle a swinging seat’’.
His critics, though, insist he should hand over his lord mayoral robes until the ICAC matters are resolved. Greens councillors Michael Osborne and Therese Doyle confirmed yesterday they will formally move that way when the council meets on August 26.
‘‘Mayor McCloy needs to stand aside immediately while these ICAC investigations about the McCloy-Liberal donations scandal are under way,’’ Cr Osborne said. ‘‘The people of Newcastle want to see an end to the age of corruption in planning and development in this city.’’
Labor councillor and state seat candidate Tim Crakanthorp called for another investigation to determine if Cr McCloy has breached the council’s code of conduct. If the allegations were true, he said, ‘‘then he would certainly be bringing council into disrepute’’.
Cr McCloy is not expected to appear before the ICAC until early next week.
Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy defends political donation
By MARK CONNORS
POLITICAL unrest in the city continues this week with Newcastle's lord mayor Jeff McCloy admitting to a donation of almost $10,000 to Liberal MP Tim Owen shortly before the 2011 state election.
In documents filed in the High Court, councillor McCloy says the McCloy Group "made a gift in the amount of $9975" to the Liberal Party's 2011 campaign for the seat of Newcastle.
Political donations from property developers have been banned in NSW since 2009.
However, Cr McCloy, who is also challenging the donation laws in court, says he does not recall making the donation.
Cr McCloy said he became aware of the transaction later on.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption public hearings into Liberal Party fund-raising resumes today, Wednesday, August 6.
The ICAC will examine if Cr McCloy improperly sought to influence state members by making donations during the 2011 campaign.
Cr McCloy admits he is a property developer and a director of property development company North Lakes, but does not admit McCloy Group is a developer.
However, as the company could be regarded as a close associate of Cr McCloy, it could be subject to the ban.
Greens councillor and Newcastle state candidate Michael Osborne called for Cr McCloy to step aside from his role until the inquiry has ended.
As The Star went to print, Liberal director for the Hunter and Central Coast Rodney Bosman and Newcastle-based property developer Brien Cornwell were due to give evidence at the hearings on Wednesday.
Brien Cornwell's son Andrew Cornwell, Charlestown state MP, is due to give evidence on Thursday.
Two members of Tim Owen's campaign team - Luke Grant and Joshua Hodges - are due to give evidence on Friday.