The NSW Government must address the serious concerns raised in the Independent Commission Against Corruption response to the government’s proposed planning reforms, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Total Environment Centre.
The state’s corruption watchdog has warned, in a submission to government, that proposals outlined in the government’s planning Green Paper have the potential to create corruption risk, undermine effective strategic planning and reduce public confidence in the planning system.
ICAC observed that “the introduction of increased flexibility into a system will create a corruption risk, especially when combined with the potential for proponents to obtain huge windfall profits through obtaining an approval”.
“These findings vindicate our own concerns about the serious risks inherent in a developer-driven reform agenda,” said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The government’s proposed changes will create uncertainty for the community, deliver windfall gains for developers and exacerbate corruption risk at local and state level.”
“The planning reforms must require decisions makers to be more accountable and improve transparency in decision making or there will be continued disenchantment within the community,” said Mr Clarke.
ICAC expressed serious concerns about the lack of clear decision-making criteria in the new system, and found that “ill−defined criteria are inherently open to varying interpretation and consequently provide a convenient cloak for corrupt conduct”.
“This is a clear warning that if the government simply reinvents the loopholes and escape clauses that were in the previous, much criticised, planning system, then the stench of corruption will inevitably arise,” said Jeff Angel, Executive Director of the Total Environment Centre.
“To date, the proposals by government lack the certainty, guaranteed transparency and genuine public participation needed to restore faith in the system. The proposed escape clauses for developers must be removed and replaced with ironclad protections for integrity, accountability and transparency in decision-making.”
“The Premier must take urgent action to address the concerns of the Commission in order to restore the public’s confidence in the planning system,” said Mr Angel.
The NSW Government’s Green Paper proposes to:
· increase rights for developers to propose and challenge rezoning decisions;
· introduce strategic compliance certificates that, in essence, will allow development to proceed before strategic planning has been completed;
· introduce an enterprise zone, which will be characterised by minimal planning controls;
· allow developers to submit applications that do not comply with prescribed codes.
For interview, please contact:
Pepe Clarke, NCC Chief Executive Officer 0402 325 471
Jeff Angel, TEC Executive Director 0418 273 773
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) submission is available online at: