Release Date: 20100723
The Windsor Hotel redevelopment scandal will go down in history as a bid to corrupt Victoria’s Planning and Heritage laws.
What is not so clear yet, however, is whether the Windsor scandal is an isolated incident linked to a ‘Rogue Trader’ in the State Government’s Media Unit, or whether it is part of a wider conspiracy designed to help undermine the rule of law, and the regulation of property developers in Victoria.
As the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Windsor Hotel affair now waits for the Ombudsman to complete his own investigation, the Inquiry will find the Ombudsman’s recent report on the Probity of the Kew Cottages and St Kilda Triangle developments helpful in addressing the wider question, and Government decision making involved.
For example, the Ombudsman records that early in the Kew development process the then Executive Director Heritage Victoria, Mr. Ray Tonkin, recalled feeling some pressure from the Government owner (DHS) to advise them informally on the Heritage status of Kew Cottages, rather than to go through the public consultation and State Heritage nomination process required by the Victorian Heritage Act.
The Ombudsman concludes that, “the heritage issues led to uncertainty, considerable delays and significant additional costs for all associated with the project. It is unfortunate that a nomination was not made by the Department of Human Services (DHS) at the beginning of the exercise..” (295) and that
The Kew Cottages Coalition subsequently successfully nominated the site for State Heritage listing. The nomination ensured that public consultation eventually took place.
Mr. Brian Walsh, President, Kew Cottages Coalition, today said that:
” What the Ombudsman has now revealed doesn’t look like a simple bureaucratic stuff up. It looks too well planned for that. It looks to me more like the Windsor affair, more like an orchestrated bid by someone in authority to corrupt the Planning and Heritage laws.”
“Mr. Tonkin, himself, may have made an honest mistake under pressure, but as with the Windsor Hotel affair, it beggars belief that all of those concerned did not know what was at stake here.”
“I hope that the Ombudsman will help the Inquiry to unravel the details of the Windsor scandal,” Mr. Wash said, “and I hope the Parliament will get to the bottom of any attempt to corrupt Victoria’s Planning and Heritage laws.”
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