by Rachel Lang
MORETON Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland has told a corruption inquiry he was too sick to make himself aware of who donated to a trust which forwarded more than $100,000 to his 2016 election campaign.
Cr Sutherland also told the Crime and Corruption Commission he was rarely involved in approaching donors to solicit money for the Moreton Futures Trust - a trust which today became the focus of an inquiry examining political donations during council elections in south east Queensland.
"I would be happy not to be involved with money in any way shape or form," he said.
Cr Sutherland repeatedly told the CCC he doesn't like to "rattle the can", preferring others to solicit donations on his behalf like property developer and "really good mate" David Trask.
"I asked him if he could solicit some donations; he's very well connected," Cr Sutherland said.
He also said he was unaware of who donated to the trust - evidence which was directly queried by counsel assisting the Commission Glen Rice QC.
Evidence obtained by the CCC detailed a comprehensive list of trust donors that was emailed to Cr Sutherland's shared account on March 24, 2016.
Invoices outlined donations totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars were sent to the shared email address and appear to have been managed by Cr Sutherland's wife, Gayle.
Those invoices were sent by Moreton Futures' trustee Kirby Leeke who yesterday described cheques for thousands of dollars arriving in the mail from developers.
Mr Leeke, an accountant who works in Everton Park, said he too was never involved in approaching people to make donations to the Moreton Futures Trust.
Despite having access to the account Cr Sutherland told the inquiry that his hospitalisation in the lead-up to the election meant he was in no fit state to absorb such information.
"On the 24th of March I wouldn't have known what day it was," he said.
"I was in hospital ...On the Wednesday (before the election) I collapsed in the front street of Scarborough and had to be carried to my car," he said.
"I wouldn't have opened up an email from (Leeke) - I may have - but I was in no position to do anything on March 24th.
"I had to get helped out of a chair."
Cr Sutherland said that while he didn't actively avoid finding out who had contributed to the Trust, he preferred to not be aware as to avoid conflicts of interest whilst discussing development applications in council meetings.
"It wasn't a conscious decision not to do it," he said.
"It's hard to have a conflict if you don't know who is there. If you do know, then you have to walk."
Yesterday an email tendered in evidence suggested a conversation with Alan Sutherland had led a property developer to move towards making a substantial donation to Moreton Futures Trust.
Brisbane based property developer Michael Graham wrote in an email to Kirby Leeke, who was running the Trust's account to pledge thousands to the mayoral campaign, however yesterday the commission heard that the donation never eventuated.
"I have been speaking with Allan Sutherland and have decided to support his campaign with a $10,000 donation," Mr Graham wrote to Moreton Futures Trust Accountant Kirby Leeke.
Cr Sutherland said this was the only occasion where he would have been directly involved in soliciting a donations.