Open book on Cairns Unity Team donations!

Melanie Petrinec, Monday, August 27, 2012 © The Cairns Post 

BUSINESSES from across the state and prominent Cairns identities bankrolled Mayor Bob Manning’s Unity team to the tune of almost $165,000 during the local government election campaign, new figures reveal.

The Electoral Commission Queensland has published the financial disclosure return for the Cairns Unity Team, illustrating how much money was behind the group’s success in garnering six seats on the Cairns Regional Council.

Unity’s donations trounced the $90,000 poured into former mayor Val Schier’s unsuccessful campaign, and the $6800 of in-kind contributions made to Margaret Cochrane’s Community Alliance team.

The report shows Cairns business family the Irelands was Unity’s biggest benefactor, donating more than $40,000 through two registered businesses and individual contributions.

A business registered as “63 Abbott Street Pty Ltd” donated $14,750, while Brisbane-based company Easterly Projects Pty Ltd put $5000 towards Unity and the same amount into the campaign of independent Linda Cooper.

Councillors Richie Bates, Greg Fennell, Terry James, Max O’Halloran, Jessie Richardson and John Schilling benefited from running under Cr Manning’s Unity banner and lodged minimal individual donations, if any.

Cr Cooper, who was successfully re-elected for Division 6, received the most donations to an individual with $24,400.

Division 1 councillor Steve Brain lodged nil contributions, while Division 10 councillor Julia Leu declared $4450 in donations.

Cr Rob Pyne, for Division 3, was backed to the tune of $6000 – mostly by family.

He welcomed the move to publish donations on the ECQ website. “I remember seeking this information after the last election and the information was kept in a folder in a locked cupboard in the CEO’s office,” he said.

“Having it online marks a great step forward in terms of open

Cr Pyne, who does not accept donations from businesses or developers, has called a press conference today to discuss the figures.

The returns can be viewed at


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