Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said he will not speak at a UDIA forum before the election.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said he will not speak at a UDIA forum before the election.

Why candidate withdrew from UDIA forum

BUNDABERG Mayor Jack Dempsey has pulled out of a political forum where attending residents could have asked mayoral candidates about the local economy.

The event at Rowers on the River was to be hosted by the local branch of the Urban Development of Australia on Friday, where Cr Dempsey and his political opponent Helen Blackburn would have expected to have talked about their intended direction if elected on March 28.

But on Monday Cr Dempsey informed the UDIA president Nathan Freeman that he would not attend the forum, and that he would be at a Regional Development Australia meeting in Kingaroy.

He also said that nominations for candidates had not yet opened and that there could possibly be more mayoral candidates who would want the same opportunity to speak.

Mr Freeman said the UDIA aimed to postpone the event and had reached out to Cr Dempsey's office to see when he might be available.

He said it was important that its members knew what the mayoral candidates had to offer the industry, which he said was an important pillar of the Bundaberg community.

Cr Dempsey said many members of UDIA drove economic development in the region and that it was important to have a working relationship.

But he said he would not speak at a UDIA hosted forum before the election, saying some of its members had shown support for Cr Blackburn.

"I categorically state that I won't be accepting any donations or endorsements from the development industry," Cr Dempsey said.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland states political donations from property developers were banned under state law.

But he said he had presented at a previous forum in November where he suggested ideas to boost the construction sector, including a council funded house builders incentive worth at least $5000 for each new house that was built.

"Council and the UDIA established a working party to advance this and other issues, which met for the first time earlier this month," he said.

"If re-elected mayor, I support this continuing."

Cr Blackburn criticised the Mayor's decision to withdraw from the forum.

"I feel it's very disappointing to the industry and the community at large for the current Mayor not to be willing to discuss the things that matter to them, with them," she said.

"The current Mayor has been supported by many members of this industry, LNP members and others in the past, and I would have no problem attending the forum at which the current mayor's supporters were in attendance."

Local government candidates would be required to declare gifts or money worth more than $500 from an entity or person