Corruption probe to consider Victorian planning system

An investigation into alleged corruption relating to property development at an outer Melbourne council will expand its scope to cover planning decisions statewide.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich

Public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct at Casey City Council will resume on November 9.

The hearings will concentrate on examining “broader strategic issues and systemic corruption vulnerabilities to inform the commission’s recommendations for improving the transparency and integrity of Victoria’s planning system,” IBAC’s Commissioner Robert Redlich says.

“These hearings will explore the ramifications of behaviours exposed in our earlier examination of the conduct of some City of Casey councillors, and assess the adequacy of Victoria’s current systems and controls for safeguarding the integrity of the state’s planning processes,” he said.

The hearings, which are are part of ICAC’s ongoing Operation Sandon investigation, were adjourned in March because of COVID.

Commissioner Redlich says the investigation has already exposed a range of integrity issues including a lack of transparency and accountability around decision making at Casey.

It has also raised concerns about the relationships between individuals in planning and property development in other parts of Victoria beyond Casey, he says, as well as the way in which planning and property decisions are made across the state.

He says IBAC will call additional witnesses to give evidence on planning, campaign donations, lobbying, and integrity standards at local and state government levels.

“This final phase of the public hearings will explore opportunities to strengthen policies, systems and practices to prevent future corruption risks,” Commissioner Redlich said.

The public hearings will run for six weeks. They can’t be attended in person because of health restrictions but will be streamed live.

The first round of the public hearings ran from November 18 to December 6 last year.

Former Frankston City Council manager jailed

Meanwhile, a former coucil manager will spend a year in jail following an IBAC investigation into allegations of improper procurement practices at Frankston City Council.

Andrew Williamson was sentenced to a total of 12 months jail and two and half years of community service for obtaining $406,900 worth of property by deception, for attempting to obtain $65,530 of property by deception and misconduct in public office.

 IBAC launched operation Topi after a mandatory notification from Frankston City Council.

Williamson was sentenced in the Melbourne County court last Thursday. He was charged in January and pleaded guilty to the charges in August.

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2 thoughts on “Corruption probe to consider Victorian planning system

  1. Congratulations Robert for including an assessment of the whole of Victoria’s Planning System with respect to its integrity and its transparency. If I may say so that given the issues that have occurred over recent years in the building approval side of things and the fact that it is strongly linked to the planning approval process, this should be included in your assessment also for a number of reasons that I can think of one of which you have alluded to in this story. Coming from a strong governance background with a major metropolitan utility that covered the whole of metro Melbourne prior to it privatisation /corporatisation and working with a number of local government agencies since I have a very good benchmark between these two situations for a measure of how well things have gone in this arena since 11 December 1994

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