The new-look Jewel at six storeys.
The new-look Jewel at six storeys. Adam Wratten

State of confusion over council's Jewel green light referral

IT'S unclear if the Queensland Government is investigating Bundaberg Regional Council's handling of the Jewel development.

Last week Planning Minister Cameron Dick approved the controversial project at six storeys after he had called it in on December 21.

Then Mr Dick questioned the council's handling of the Bargara highrise application, citing community concerns about the approval process.

"The council adopted a highly unusual approach of allowing the development to proceed to a deemed approval, which is what occurs when the council fails to make a decision within set timeframes,” Mr Dick said.

"It is clear the Bundaberg Regional Council did not consider this application in accordance with proper planning processes and in fact may have potentially overlooked their responsibility to ensure transparent and robust planning decisions.”

Last week Mr Dick's office said the council's handling of the initial application had been referred to Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

On Thursday, a representative of Mr Hinchliffe's office said the matter was being "investigated” by Queensland's newly created Office of Independent Assessor.

However, the Office of the Independent Assessor told the NewsMail the office only dealt with matters regarding specific councillor conduct, not decisions, processes or actions of a council.

A spokesman for Mr Hinchliffe then said the minister's office was not reviewing the matter.

He also said that if the matter related to a council decision, it would be a matter for the council.

Mr Dick's office remained adamant correspondence had been sent from the planning minister's office to Mr Hincliffe's for review.

Meanwhile, Bundaberg Regional Council said it was not aware of any investigation.

A spokesperson for the Queensland Ombudsman late yesterday was also unable to confirm or deny if the matter was under investigation by the ombudsman.