Due to the sensitive nature of the role of the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA), from time to time conflict of interest situations may arise, have potential to arise or be perceived to have arisen.
The Victorian Planning Authority Act 2017 contains conflict of interest requirements that apply to VPA Authority Members, staff and consultants. Conflicts are required to be declared, and conflicted individuals must stand aside from any involvement in the matter.
It is considered that the circumstances where conflicts are most likely to occur fall into three major categories:
VPA Staff and Authority Members
In respect of the VPA staff and Authority Members, the VPA is required to follow the Government’s Codes of Conduct and the Victorian Public Sector Conflict of Interest Policy Framework, as well as the VPA Act. These documents, and other relevant material, are available through the Victorian Public Sector Commission website.
VPA Authority Members are public officials under section 4 of the Public Administration Act 2004. In performing their roles Members are bound by the legislated requirements of the Victorian public sector values of: responsiveness; integrity; impartiality; accountability; respect and leadership.
In addition, VPA Authority Members also comply with the Code of Conduct which is aligned to these public sector values. Click here to find a copy of the relevant code.
The VPA and members also adhere to the conflict of interest principles specified in the Public Administration Act 2004. More information on duties related to conflict of interest can be found on the Victorian Public Sector Commission website.
Conflict of Interest
Adhering to the policies set out above ensures that potential conflicts of interest at Board level are identified and appropriately managed. Authority Members must declare any potential new conflicts at the start of each Authority meeting. If a conflict exists, then Authority Members must not take any part in discussion of the matter, or participate in the Authority’s decision.
Probity guidelines have also been developed to assist with the VPA’s activities. For more information, refer to the VPA Probity Guidelines – March 2020 (PDF).
The VPA has adopted a Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy – September 2019 (PDF) which complies with the Victorian Public Sector Commission framework. As part of this policy we may collect information relating to gift offers made to VPA staff and Authority Members.
Our Privacy Collection Statement – Gift Offers – March 2017 (PDF) explains how this information is used.
The Authority’s Gift Register for 2020-2021 can be found here.
The VPA welcomes feedback on our planning processes. We have adopted a Complaint Handling Policy – July 2017 (PDF) that outlines how we deal with any complaints we may receive. Complaints can be raised directly with the VPA staff member who is dealing with the relevant matter, or can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consultants and Contractors to the VPA
Consultants are required under the VPA Act to declare any conflicts of interest before providing advice to the VPA. The Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees also extends to contractors/consultants in most circumstances. In addition, the VPA, like other Victorian Government bodies, has a requirement in its standard contract documentation that consultants/contractors engaged by the VPA have a duty to disclose and mitigate any conflict or potential conflict of interest situations.
Please see link for a list of contractors and consultants (PDF) referred to in the Victorian Planning Authority Annual Report 2019-2020 (PDF).
For more information, refer to the Procurement Policy and Procedures – December 2019 (PDF).
Landowners/Developers (or their agents) in relation to third party PSP funding agreements
In some circumstances, a landowner or developer will have entered into third party funding arrangements for the provision of resources to undertake the background studies associated with PSP preparation. In the terms of the contractual relationship with the VPA, the parties involved have an enhanced duty in respect of actual, potential and perceived conflict of interest situations.
The VPA has an Information Sheet: Conflict of interest as it pertains to Third Parties (and their agents) who contract with the VPA‚ which is provided to all signatories to such an agreement, and is available on request from the VPA.
Protected Disclosure Policy
The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) is committed to the aims and objectives of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (the Act). It does not tolerate improper conduct by its employees, officers or members, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.
The VPA will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure. It will also afford natural justice to the person who is the subject of the disclosure.
For further information, refer to Public Interest Disclosures Policy and Procedures – January 2020 (PDF).