ICAC calls for corruption prevention measures

The ICAC is encouraging all NSW councils to consider the recommendations in its report into corruption at Wollongong City Council and “consider their applicability” to their council.

One recommendation that suggests new regional panels are given greater authority to decide development applications will reduce corruption risks, according to developers lobby group Urban Taskforce.

Chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, Aaron Gadiel, said the NSW Government should act on ICAC’s recommendation as soon as possible.

The government’s current proposals will only see these panels dealing with the very largest of developments – residential developments with a project value of $50 million or more and other developments of value $20 million or more.

Mr Gadiel said most major urban developments are in the $5 million to $30 million range.

“These larger developments need to be taken out of the hands of suburban and regional councils and instead given to the new regional panels.

“The majority of each panel is to be made up of independent experts. These panels will inject a lot more rigour into decision making and strengthen community confidence in the planning system.”

Major recommendations from the ICAC report include:

• That Wollongong City Council publish a register of DA determinations that rely on SEPP 1 and that the NSW Department of Planning monitor and enforce the requirements for all consent authorities to keep records of their assessment of development applications seeking a variation to development standards.

• That the NSW Minister for Planning consider expanding the classes of development for which Joint Regional Planning Panels will be the consent Authority to include certain categories of development relying on SEPP 1 objections.

• That the NSW Minister for Planning consider ways in which Joint Regional Planning Panels can be made resistant to improper influence, such as:

– Regularly rotating panel members across different panels
– Limiting the tenure of panel members
– Drawing panel members on a random basis, or at least in a manner which makes their appointment diffi cult to predict.

• That Wollongong City Council establish an Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel; re-establish the position of Internal Ombudsman; train and appoint additional protected disclosure offi cers; and reconstitute its Audit and Governance Committee with an independent chairperson.

• That Wollongong City Council rewrite the position descriptions, contracts and performance agreements of the General Manager and relevant senior managers so that the desired anti-corruption behaviour is recognised and rewarded.”


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