The second round of the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission’s (IBAC) public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct in relation to planning and property development decisions at the Casey City Council resumes today.
These public hearings, which are part of IBAC’s Operation Sandon investigation, will continue to hear evidence from witnesses involved in Casey City Council matters. IBAC will also more broadly examine the adequacy of Victoria’s current systems and controls for safeguarding the integrity of the state’s planning processes.
IBAC has also contacted a range of other Victorian councils who have planned or started audits of planning decisions, as a result of Operation Sandon, requesting advice on these audit processes and their findings.
“As part of these examinations, IBAC will consider strategic issues and systemic corruption vulnerabilities identified through the investigation. In the final week of public hearings, IBAC will take evidence from a number of expert witnesses with specialist knowledge in planning, campaign donations, lobbying, and integrity standards at local and state government levels,” IBAC Commissioner, The Honourable Robert Redlich QC said.
“This phase of the examinations will also consider potential opportunities to strengthen related policies, systems and practices to prevent future corruption risk,” Commissioner Redlich said.
For the first time, IBAC will publicly stream the hearings to make them more accessible to all Victorians, with streaming expected to commence during the first week of the hearings.
“Our public hearings are often at capacity and public interest in this matter is high. Video streaming will help interested community members, including local council employees, follow the proceedings,” Commissioner Redlich said.
While it is not part of IBAC’s investigation (or education and prevention functions) to consider the issue of the dismissal of the council, matters relevant to our inquiries discussed by Ms Laurinda Gardner, the Monitor for the City of Casey, in her report may be raised with witnesses that are called over the next three weeks.
In relation to former City of Casey Mayor Sam Aziz, IBAC would seek Mr Aziz’s assistance in its inquiries should he return to Australia.
The public hearings will run from 2-27 March at Court 9, Level 5/11 Exhibition St, Melbourne.
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/reportor call 1300 735 135.