IBAC to resume Casey probe

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IBAC’s public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct in relation to planning and property development decisions in Victoria to resume with expanded scope in November

Public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct in relation to planning and property development decisions at the Casey City Council will resume on 9 November, with public streaming of the hearings available.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich QC said: “As part of IBAC’s corruption prevention focus, the resumed public hearings will concentrate on examining the broader strategic issues and systemic corruption vulnerabilities to inform our findings and recommendations for improving the transparency and integrity of Victoria’s planning system.

“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,” Commissioner Redlich said.

IBAC adjourned the hearings, which are part of its Operation Sandon investigation, in consideration of public health in March. The hearings will now resume in line with directions from the Chief Health Officer. The hearings will include remote participation by witnesses and others, and will be publicly streamed on IBAC’s website.

“IBAC’s investigation has already exposed a range of integrity issues, including a lack of transparency and accountability around certain decisions at the City of Casey Council,” Commissioner Redlich said.

“The investigation has also raised concerns about the relationship between individuals involved in planning and property development in other parts of Victoria, beyond Casey, as well as the way in which such decisions are made in regard to planning and property development in this state.

“IBAC will call a range of further witnesses to enable us to properly examine these concerns and their impact across the various levels of Victoria’s planning and property development system.”

In the final week of public hearings, IBAC will hear from witnesses with specialist knowledge in 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. Due to current Victorian COVID-19 health directions, the hearings cannot be attended in person by members of the public, but can be freely accessed via video stream on the IBAC website.

Operation Sandon is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to report it now at www.ibac.vic.gov.au/report or call 1300 735 135.

The first round of the public hearings ran from 18 November to 6 December 2019. Hearings recommenced on 2 March and were adjourned on 17 March 2020 as a precautionary measure in consideration of public health.

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