EXCLUSIVE: Unions behind mayor's campaign funding

THE two single biggest financial contributions to new Mayor Matt Burnett's election campaign came from unions.

As the candidates from the March elections begin filing their official declarations, Cr Burnett has said two unions; the CFMEU and the Maritime Union of Australia, donated more than $13,500 to pay for advertising.

Cr Burnett says the Maritime Union of Australia offered him $9000 - of which he only accepted $6000 - and the CFMEU coughed up $7638.50.

The other major contributions came from the well-known Creed family, who donated $1000 and fellow re-elected councillor PJ Sobhanian, who gave $310.

Cr PJ Sobhanian documenting his donation to mayor Matt Burnett during the 2016 Local Government Elections.
Cr PJ Sobhanian documenting his donation to mayor Matt Burnett during the 2016 Local Government Elections.

Cr Burnett, who is yet to lodge his formal disclosure statement, accepted almost $15,000 in large donations and says there were countless smaller amounts from family, friends and business owners.

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 candidates must lodge an official declaration detailing any donations more than $200, but the deadline isn't until 15 weeks after the election.

"These are organisations that were happy to support me because I supported them in the past, particularly the MUA when I campaigned against the sale of Gladstone Port," Cr Burnett, who is a member of the CFMEU, said.

The new mayor also wanted to make it clear the contributions would not buy the two unions any special treatment or political power with his council.

During the mayoral race Cr Burnett was asked, by this paper and during the public mayoral forum, ahead of polling day who was funding his political campaign.

>>Candidates reveal who is funding their campaign ahead of polling day

He wouldn't answer that question directly, saying only "I have always funded my own campaign in the past," and "I would never accept a donation from any political party."

Cr Burnett says he didn't disclose the funding before voters went to the polls because he "didn't have to".

He said he didn't take the other $3000 on offer from the MUA because he didn't feel comfortable asking for it.

Five candidates, Cr Rick Hansen, Cr Cindi Bush, Cr PJ Sobhanian, Alf Walker and Karen Porter have officially lodged their declarations.

Alf Walker declared a $500 donations from Lester Boyle, and Cr PJ Sobhanian was given $250 from Mitra Sobhanian.

Follow this reporter on Twitter @helenspelitis

Note: The paper version of this story - published Thursday, May 5 - does not include declarations from Cr PJ Sobhanian and Cr Cindi Bush as these statements did not appear on the ECQ website until Thursday morning.