Fitzgerald review of the evidence before the upper house inquiry finds no impropriety by Westfield
21 December 2004
The Westfield Group today released an independent review of evidence before the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Orange Grove matter which finds no evidence of any impropriety by Westfield.
Westfieldasked respected former judge Mr Tony FitzgeraldQCto undertake the review to provide an independent, credible and apolitical assessment of the evidence before the Upper House Inquiry.
Mr Fitzgerald and Richard McHugh reviewed the entire proceedings of the Upper House inquiry, as well as the NSW Environmental, Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and legal precedents relating to planning law.
The Fitzgerald review is released in response to the majority report of the Upper House Committee on the matter and does not consider, review or comment upon any of the evidence coming out of the current Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearings.
Mr Fitzgeralds key findings based on the evidence before the Upper House Inquiry are:
- Westfields officers (not Mr Frank Lowy) met with Premier Carrs Chief of Staff where concerns about Gazcorps relationships, tactics and motives and Liverpool Councils integrity were raised. The evidence shows these concerns were not raised for the purpose of influencing the Minister or Premier not to consider the draft LEP on its merits. [paragraph 41].
- Minister Diane Beamers decision not to approve the rezoning of the Orange Grove building as an outlet centre was not influenced by Westfields concerns but was made on planning grounds [paragraph 49]
- There was no impropriety by Westfieldin relation to Minister Beamers decision not to approve the rezoning of the Orange Grove building as an outlet centre [paragraph 50].
- Neither departmental records nor the evidence show Westfieldsought to interfere in the statutory process or that Minister Beamers decision had an improper purpose [paragraph 49].
- Westfielddid not ask or expect its political donations to be taken into account in its dealing with the NSW Government on Orange Grove, and on the evidence, they were not [paragraph 38].
Copies of the report are available on westfield.com
*Tony Fitzgerald QC is a former Federal Court Judge (19811984), inaugural President of the Queensland Court of Appeal (19911998) and Judge of the NSW Court of Appeal (19982001). He is perhaps best known by the general public as the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Official Corruption in Queensland(19871989).