New planning minister recused from conflict with lobbyist brother

Victoria’s new planning minister has recused herself from any project involving her lobbyist brother to avoid a conflict of interest with his construction and development clients after a weeks-long headache for the government on integrity.

Premier Daniel Andrews appointed Planning Minister Lizzie Blandthorn last month in a cabinet reshuffle, unsettling senior government and Labor insiders given her brother John-Paul Blandthorn is a director of Labor-linked lobbying firm Hawker Britton.

New planning minister Lizzie Blandthorn and (inset) her brother John-Paul Blandthorn, a director of Labor-linked lobbying firm Hawker Britton.Credit:AAP

The firm’s clients include many prominent property and infrastructure companies, among them developers Dennis Family Corporation, Intrapac and Caydon, and construction giant John Holland in its role building the West Gate Tunnel.

Weeks after The Age first revealed the conflict, a government spokeswoman on Thursday night confirmed an alternative minister would be appointed to handle any project involving Hawker Britton.

The alternate minister, who is yet to be confirmed, would still have no contact with the firm on planning matters to avoid any potential perception of a conflict.

“Hawker Britton has been advised that the minister for planning will exclude herself from any planning decision-making that involves or mentions a client of Hawker Britton,” a government spokeswoman said.

There will be no contact between the firm and the minister, her office, or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on any planning matter.

“The minister looks forward to continuing to work with local communities to deliver the best planning outcomes for Victorians,” the spokeswoman said.

The alternate minister would be delegated to make decisions where a risk of a conflict of interest remains, but Hawker Britton would be cut from all planning matters.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

Most Viewed in Politics

Source: Read Full Article