Cosy relationships with property lobbyists must end following release of Operation Sandon report


The Victorian Greens have blasted the Victorian Labor Government’s decade-long failure to implement basic anti-corruption measures and curb the cosy relationships between property developers and politicians, following the release of IBAC’s Operation Sandon report.

The damning report, tabled today, found that property developer John Woodman had bought 'privileged access' to Victorian ministers and wielded improper influence over Casey councillors.

In response,the Greens have called on the Premier to:

  • Make ministerial diaries public, as is the case in NSW and QLD.
  • Legislate codes of conduct for Ministers and lobbyists.
  • Implement spending caps for election campaigns.
  • Apply the state’s donation cap laws to local government.
  • Ban political donations from the property industry and other high-risk groups.

The Greens say Premier Andrews and his Ministers’ secretive, cosy relationships with property donors and lobbyists were an ‘appalling look’. 

They said that the Government’s ongoing failure to strengthen Victoria’s lobbying laws had made such corruption ‘utterly predictable and almost inevitable’.   

Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, said that while IBAC’s main findings exposed corruption between lobbyists and councillors, the level of donations and interactions between Labor MPs, Ministers, and the corrupt lobbyists clearly showed Victoria’s planning and integrity regime was rotten from the top.

He added there was currently no effective regulation or transparency on meetings between property lobbyists, often themselves ex-MPs or closely linked to the Labor party, and Government Ministers.

The report also exposed the extent of lobbyists' donations to Labor and Liberal state and local election campaigns, as well as their ability to ‘purchase’ additional access to senior members of Government at events and meetings, including the Premier. 

Dr Read said that while other states had moved onto their third or fourth generation of lobbyist laws, the Victorian Labor Government continued to foster an insular and opaque culture of lobbying politicians resembling an old boys’ club.

The Victorian Greens will move to introduce their Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption (Preventing Political Corruption) Bill 2023 when Parliament resumes next month, to bolster IBAC’s powers to investigate ‘grey level’ political corruption as a matter of urgency. 

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:    

“It shouldn’t take four IBAC reports, and close to a decade for a government to strengthen lobbying and anti-corruption laws when other states do it immediately.

“Election campaign spending drives a lot of political corruption and must be capped at the state and local government levels. 

“We also need to see ministerial diaries made public, codes of conduct for ministers and lobbyists legislated, and political donations from the property industry banned.

“The Victorian Greens are the only party fighting for the Labor and Liberal parties to introduce stronger political integrity laws.”  

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:

“If the Victorian Labor Government is going to remove planning powers from councils without strengthening the state’s integrity laws, it will just be shifting corruption to state government MPs and Ministers.

“It’s no surprise that we have planning dysfunction when Government MPs and Ministers spend more time speaking to wealthy property developers for donations, than housing experts and renters.    

“The Victorian Greens have previously stated that in order for them to support any upcoming changes to the state’s planning controls, the Government must ensure that big developers build their fair share of public and affordable homes.”