PLANNING MINISTER: PLEASE EXPLAIN CRANBOURNE REZONING DECISION

The Victorian Planning Minister must explain why in December 2015 he authorised an investigation of a
proposed rezoning of industrial land in Cranbourne West, in the City of Casey, to the much more lucrative
residential rezoning.

He must also explain why in September 2018 he sought a brief from his Department “providing a modified
version of the amendment for approval”.

The reason he needs to explain his 2015 decision is that none of the Planning Department, the Melbourne
Planning Authority, the Department of Economic Development, Vic Roads and the Victorian Ombudsman had supported it.

His Executive Director of Statutory Planning had advised him that the proposal was contrary to state,
metropolitan, regional and local planning policies, all of which promoted employment generation in job-starved areas such as Casey, one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia. The Planning Department said there was “no strategic justification” for the rezoning.

The Planning Department also told the Minister in 2015 that the Victorian Ombudsman had raised concerns about Casey Council and its relationship with Mr John Woodman’s Watson’s Pty Ltd. This relationship has since been the subject of explosive revelations at the Independent Broad-Based Commission Against Corruption.

The Minister also needs to explain why in September 2018 he was seeking a compromise that would enable a smaller scale rezoning. He did so notwithstanding the fact that both his Department and the Victorian Planning Authority remained opposed to the proposal.

Given the advice the Minister was receiving not to proceed with the rezoning, he needs to tell Victorians

(1) why he took the steps he did

(2) what representations he received concerning the rezoning, from whom, and when, and

(3) are there any other instances of the Minister proceeding to send a rezoning request to a Planning Panel against the advice of the Victorian Planning Authority, VicRoads, the Department of Economic Development, his own Department, and with the Ombudsman expressing concerns?

The proposed amendment was known as C219. The bulk of the site was owned by
construction company Leightons and Chinese-based developer Dacland.

It has been estimated that residential rezoning could have boosted the value of
the site by $150 million.