Posted on 29. Jun, 2011 in News

In a humiliating backdown, Planning Minister Matthew Guy has been forced to promise greater transparency and consultation on secret housing development deals, the Shadow Planning Minister, Brian Tee, said today.

Last night, Labor introduced amendments in State Parliament to disclose details of proposed secret agreements between property developers and the Baillieu Government.

Mr Tee said the amendments related to planned Baillieu Government changes to the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution proposed in the GAIC Bill currently being debated in Parliament.

“The community should be very concerned about these planned changes to GAIC,” Mr Tee said.

“Labor believes developers should pay their fair share for infrastructure and services to support new housing developments in our growth suburbs – which is why the former Labor Government introduced the GAIC.

“But the Government’s Bill proposes to introduce secret ‘work-in-kind” (WIK) agreements between developers and the State Government. These agreements will allow developers to offset their GAIC liabilities if they agree to build local infrastructure to support new housing developments.

“Contrary to current planning processes, WIK agreements will be made in secret between Planning Minister Matthew Guy and the developer – without consulting the local council, without reference to the Growth Areas Authority and without reference to precinct structure plans.

“The secrecy and lack of proper planning oversight means the process is open to exploitation and may deliver infrastructure not suited to the community.

“Naturally, developers will want to load up the WIK agreements with “pretty” infrastructure like parks and bike paths to help market the development to potential homeowners rather than schools, public transport, maternal child-health centres, recreation and sporting facilities.

“Without the proper input and oversight WIK agreements could leave communities short-changed on vital services – and taxpayers footing the final bill.”

Mr Tee said Labor amendments sought to require:
• The Growth Areas Authority to include details of WIK agreements in their annual reports; and
• The State Government to consult with local council on WIK agreements

In the Financial Review today, Mr Guy said he was now “committed to a public disclosure on a project-by-project basis of the value of any infrastructure” through the Growth Areas Authority’s annual report.

“We are glad Mr Guy has listened to reason and taken our advice to guarantee greater public disclosure of WIK Agreements,” Mr Tee said.

“But he hasn’t gone nearly far enough.

“Mr Guy has refused to back our amendments to enshrine this disclosure in legislation and guarantee consultation with councils giving Labor no choice but to vote against the Bill.”

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