Bid to stop IBAC delays

Property developer John Woodman has launched a Supreme Court bid to stop IBAC tabling its Operation Sandon report.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

The State Opposition has launched a Bill to expedite the tabling of anti-corruption body reports, which are being delayed by “unnecessary legal delays and roadblocks”.

It comes as property developer John Woodman is embroiled in a Supreme Court bid to halt the release of an Independent Broad-Based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) report into alleged corruption in City of Casey planning matters.

In State Parliament, the Opposition’s upper house leader David Davis said the Bill responded to “concerning delays” stymying several IBAC reports.

“These reports have been caught up in unnecessary legal delays and roadblocks.

“It is in the public interest that these IBAC reports are tabled without undue delay,” Mr Davis said.

“The Supreme Court must be free to make its decisions unimpeded but should be aware of Parliament’s intention that applications be determined with as much speed as is relevant within the requirements of this Act.”

Mr Woodman, who is a person-of-interest in IBAC’s Operation Sandon inquiry, is seeking an injunction or prohibition order to halt the tabling of the inquiry’s report in State Parliament.

IBAC had provided Mr Woodman the draft report in two volumes in December and January, in order for him to respond.

“The IBAC has to date failed to give Mr Woodman any opportunity (let alone a reasonable opportunity) to respond to all of the “adverse material” as required,” his redacted submissions to the court stated.

IBAC unfairly refused to provide all of the footnotes relied on for its “adverse comments or opinions” about him in a draft report, Mr Woodman submitted.

Out of the draft’s 2603 footnotes, there were 412 fully redacted and 81 partially redacted. Many of the redacted footnotes referred to “adverse material” against him.

This deprived him of a “reasonable opportunity” to respond, rebut or qualify the report, he submitted.

“In short, if publication to Parliament need not be done, and it cannot be done fairly, it cannot be done.”

In response, IBAC’s redacted submissions argue “there has been no denial of procedural fairness … or unreasonableness”.

Mr Woodman’s argument about footnotes was a “distraction and devoid of substance”, IBAC submitted.

“IBAC’s adverse comments and opinions, and the basis for those comments and opinions, are fully set out in the body of the draft report.

“The footnotes that Mr Woodman has not seen will not be included in the final report.

“Mr Woodman’s claims for declaratory and other relief are baseless.”

The State Opposition’s Bill is expected to be debated in Parliament next week.

The Supreme Court hearing is ongoing.