The Government’s Kew Cottages Project Director held shares in Property Developer !
The Government’s Executive Director was also working for BP Australia !
Today’s Report by the Victorian Ombudsman, Mr. George Brouwer, on the controversial Kew Cottages and St Kilda Triangle Public Land Developments has slammed the management of both developments.
Mr. Brouwer reveals that the Kew Development Project Director, Major Projects Victoria, had a conflict of interest, and had failed to declare that he held shares in a property development company, Mirvac.
The Ombudsman says that:
I consider that it is inappropriate for persons working in Major Projects Victoria to hold shares in property development or related industry companies. At the very least, such shareholdings must be disclosed. (p.54)
The Ombudsman goes on to say:
In addition, it is clear that officers and contractors of Major Projects Victoria liaise and socialise regularly with other industry players. (p.55)
and reveals that
Some individuals within Major Projects Victoria are not public servants, but are engaged directly, or through intermediary companies, as independent contractors. (p.56)
…Mr Sweeney, the Executive Director, is one example. The contracts appear to be a means to pay above Victorian Public Service standard salaries …. In the case of Mr Sweeney…
…in 2006 he worked for BP Australia while on contract with Major Projects Victoria. (p.56)
Not surprisingly the Ombudsman concludes:
In my view, it is inappropriate for an Executive Director employed by the Victorian Public Service to have outside employment, particularly without prior approval….
Brian Walsh, President, Kew Cottages Coalition, said, “The Premier has a lot of explaining to do today. First the Auditor-General tables a report on three billion dollars of secret Government contracts. Now the Ombudsman’s report tell’s us that the Government’s senior so called ‘public servant’ in charge of their Kew Cottages Development contract was also actually working for BP Australia at the time ! The mind boggles – this is like Toytown ! What was Mr. Sweeney helping BP with – their exploration for oil ? “
Mr. Walsh called on the Premier, Mr. Brumby, to provide an assurance to Parliament that the Government will not issue any further Planning Permits or Heritage Permits for the Kew Development, until the Ombudsman’s report has been properly considered by Parliament.