Gary Spence resigns as LNP president over law targeting property developer donations
LNP President Gary Spence says a new state law targeting property developers has forced him to resign from his position in the party.
- Gary Spence condemned the law banning property developer political donations
- He said the LNP’s challenge to the laws had been delayed, forcing him to resign
- Mr Spence said he had no regrets backing Peter Dutton’s failed leadership bid
Mr Spence said he could be in contempt of the law and face possible jail time, because of his background in urban development.
He will remain in his role for another week, when the party executive will elect an acting president.
In May, State Parliament passed legislation banning political donations from property developers, and made the ban retrospective to October last year.
The LNP is challenging the legislation through the High Court, but the party’s latest legal advice is that there is no prospect of a judgment before the federal election is due.
“The legislation says that if you’re a prohibited donor, then you’re prohibited from soliciting funds for a federal election or state election or any election for a political party,” Mr Spence said.
“The job of an LNP president is to raise funds to fight the incoming election and i just simply can not afford the risk of being prosecuted and going to jail.”
The law was strongly opposed by the Property Council of Australia, which said it unfairly singled out the property sector and unduly branded Queensland’s biggest non-government employer as a corruption risk.
Mr Spence said his role in the property development industry prevented him from lawfully playing an active role in the party’s leadership and management.
“[Annastacia] Palaszczuk’s laws are nothing short of a financial gerrymander to exclude people in lawful businesses that build our community and support our policies from the political process,” Mr Spence said.
“The state law is, in the party’s view, unconstitutional and the recent changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act confirm this.
“One wonders whether we’re in North Korea, perhaps we’re in Zimbabwe, where the government of the day takes steps to ensure their competitor is prohibited from participating in the election campaign.”
‘No regrets’ over Dutton push
Earlier this year, LNP insiders told the ABC Mr Spence had also been pressured to resign by some within his own party over his role in the federal leadership spill.
Mr Spence backed Peter Dutton’s failed leadership challenge earlier this year. (ABC News: Marco Catalano)
Mr Spence’s private conversations about a preference to elect Peter Dutton to the prime ministership had some party members claiming he had “overstepped” boundaries between party and parliamentary business.
Speaking about his resignation on Friday, Mr Spence said he did not regret his open backing of Mr Dutton.
“I don’t have any regrets at all,” he said.
“Scott Morrison has been widely accepted all over Queensland, the LNP membership numbers are up, the morale within the party is up.
“Queenslanders, I think, have warmed to Scott Morrison and I think he’s going to make a very good Prime Minister for many years to come.”