ICAC alerted to PS claim
Allegations of corruption in the NSW planning department have prompted an ICAC referral and suspension of an official.
In a significant development that has caught the attention of the New South Wales public service sector, a senior official from the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) has been suspended on full pay amidst allegations of corrupt conduct.
The official is accused of leveraging confidential information for personal gain, specifically in the acquisition of a property in Sydney's redevelopment zone.
The allegations were first brought to light by Alister Henskens, the shadow attorney-general and Liberal MP for Wahroonga, under parliamentary privilege.
Henskens cited whistleblower information accusing the official of buying a property in Gordon, a suburb on Sydney's upper north shore, ahead of the public announcement of the government's Transport Oriented Development (TOD) Zones.
These zones are part of a broader strategy to increase housing density around key transport hubs, potentially inflating property values significantly.
“The planning system in NSW relies on integrity,” the DPHI says.
“The DPHI secretary has taken steps to satisfy herself of the integrity of the planning system.
“In accordance with standard government practice, while there has been no finding of wrongdoing against any individual at this stage, an officer has now been placed on paid leave.”
The department has promptly referred the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), reflecting its commitment to transparency and accountability.
In his allegations, Henskens detailed how the implicated official not only capitalised on insider information but also allegedly attempted to form a “property syndicate” with neighbours.
This action, if proven true, represents a serious breach of the public trust vested in officials to act impartially and in the community's best interest.
The urgency of the situation is compounded by Henskens' assertion that an ICAC investigation might not be timely enough, given the imminent implementation of the planning policy.
He is calling for a “short, sharp, judicial inquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission” to expedite the process and restore public confidence.