The release of the Ombudsman’s Report into Conflict of Interest in Local Government supports the Property Council argument that planning and development applications should be considered by independent panels.
Property Council Executive Director Jennifer Cunich said the report highlights that problems can arise when you have a system that places the policy and decision making functions within the same hands.
“There is a need to introduce a planning and development approval system that separates out the policy making function from the decision making function,” said Ms Cunich.
Ms Cunich said the way forward is to implement the Development Assessment Forum (DAF) recommendations.
The DAF recommendations maintain the need for elected representatives to set policy, while decisions on applications are given to independent parties whose decisions are based upon objective rules and tests that reflect the policy settings.
“The DAF has put out a very sensible and respected plan that would remove even the appearance of a conflict of interest. It would ensure that the planning system is beyond repute and would bolster confidence in the planning system.
In the Property Council’s recently released pre-budget submission, Ms Cunich urged the Government to allocate funds to determine the requirements for the DAF Leading Practice model to be adopted as Government policy.
“We need to adopt a planning approvals process that removes even the possibility for conflict from the outset. Adopting the DAF is the way to do this,” said Ms Cunich.
Implementing DAF would benefit all Victorians by making the planning and development system transparent and fair. The wider benefits can only be to strengthen economic development of the state.
“In the interests of Victoria’s economic development and future, the Property Council is ready and willing to offer its help and expertise to the Government to strike the best way forward.”
For further comments contact Rachel Saunders on (03)9664 4230 or 0408544788