More time to find Woodman emails

Premier Daniel Andrews has said he didn't believe there was correspondence between his office and property developer John Woodman.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

The State Government says it needs more time to produce correspondence between Premier Daniel Andrews and IBAC person-of-interest John Woodman.

The Legislative Council had ordered the documents after passing an Opposition-raised motion on 25 May.

The relationship between property developer Mr Woodman and the Premier has been raised at an IBAC inquiry into allegedly corrupt planning deals in the City of Casey.

Mr Andrews was reportedly grilled in secret by IBAC about his dealings with Mr Woodman as part of the same inquiry.

In a letter tabled in Parliament on 21 June, Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes stated a three-week deadline set by the Legislative Council last month to produce the emails and correspondence was not “sufficient time”.

“The Government is in the process of preparing a response to the Order and will endeavour to provide a final response as soon as possible.”

On 26 May, Mr Andrews said he didn’t believe there was any correspondence about his relationship with Mr Woodman but the Upper House motion would be dealt with in the usual way.

Nearly a month later, Opposition Upper House Leader David Davis called on Mr Andrews to “come clean and produce this correspondence today”.

“Daniel Andrews has had three weeks – how long does it take to produce documents that don’t exist?”

The IBAC inquiry had heard that Mr Woodman lunched privately with Mr Andrews and MP Lee Tarlamis at the top-end Flower Drum restaurant in 2017.

The developer had successfully bid $8500 at an ALP fundraising dinner for the opportunity to dine with the Premier.

Mr Woodman’s hired ALP lobbyist Philip Staindl had told IBAC that specific planning projects weren’t discussed at the lunch.

Mr Andrews said in 2019 that the lunch was “principally” about sponsoring a charity golf day.

“He’s never raised active planning matters with me otherwise I would have stood up and left.“

At the time, Mr Woodman was seeking the rezoning of Cranbourne West industrial land for housing.

His companies also donated more than $157,000 to the ALP’s 2018 election campaign.

This year, Mr Woodman has taken Supreme Court action to halt the release of the IBAC inquiry’s report. The case is ongoing.