27 June, 2010

Anti-corruption Commission in Victoria is a dog's dinner

The proposed anti corruption model for Victoria will have four bodies to serve the same purpose. Victoria already has many issue specific bodies covering police, privacy, equal opportunity,etc. as well as parliament itself. And now we are to get four more.
  • A Public Sector Integrity Commissioner to monitor misconduct & corruption.
  • The VIACC to gather intelligence on serious misconduct & corruption
  • Ombudsman who will be stripped of some powers
  • OPI to look into corrupt police
Why not one overall body to investigate, conduct public hearings and prosecute ??? Premier Brumby says the hearings are to be held in private. This is not good enough. However, the coalition quite rightly will be opposing hearings behind closed doors.
Our major concerns are with corruption in property development and we include political donations to gain favours as a form of corruption, even though this has almost become a legitimate practice, especially with the labor party. Age journalist, Jason Dowling, has recently reported that developers are quietly seeking approval for massive developments from the state government ( and its heritage body, Heritage Victoria) months before any application is lodged. This is not news to us, it has been an established practice for many years under Labor and we have voiced concerns about the governments relationship with certain large developers.
The Walker Corporation gained substantial advantages from such early negotiations in the take-over of public land at the Kew Cottage site with accusations of favours granted after political donations were made. An accusation of corruption was made at the Upper House hearing into this matter.
Stocklands gained substantial advantage when the then Acting Planning Minister "called in" the Tooronga Village site taking the council out of the planning process. This was a square-off for the same Minister refusing Stockland's proposals for building 650 dwellings on the protected wetlands at Point Lonsdale. However, Planning Minister Madden has now given this wetlands development the green light. We would love to know what went on in the negotiations between the suits from Stocklands and the Minister and his departmental bureaucrats.
Of course, there is the Windsor Hotel sham consultation process. We know that the developer had an OK on this 92 metre tower from both the Minister and Heritage Victoria, but the Minister was concerned about community condemnation leading up to the coming election so the sham consultation process was dreamed up to give him an out. There are many more examples.This is not honesty in government is it?
There is no transparency in the Brumby government's planning processes and we are hoping that the anti corruption commission will identify these questionable practices but Premier Brumby has indicated that the various functions will not be up and running for 18 months or two years. Why???
Also, another  major concern with Brumby's  corruption commission is that it may not be given licence to look into past concerns which is obviusly designed to protect his government from issues such as those as identified above.
Food for thought with the elections coming up in November.

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