Planning minister Matthew Guy and Tamara Brezzi

Places Victoria has appointed three independent board members after two government appointed directors were left to hold the fort alone since March, following a tumultuous period for the government land agency.

New directors are president of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association Tamara Brezzi, who is a qualified town planner and lawyer and a partner at legal firm Norton Rose Fulbright, with more than 22 years experience in planning and environmental law; Robert Goudswaard, chief executive and director at Rural Finance Corporation and a director of World Vision Australia; and Graeme Parton, a former director of Charter Keck Cramer, who has previously served on the Places Victoria board. Mr Parton currently operates an independent advisory consultancy, Aequitas Advisory, and has over 35 years in experience across development and construction.

“Places Victoria is now in strong position to focus on its core urban renewal mandate,” Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy said. “It has been tasked with the important role of working closely with both government and the private sector to unlock the potential of urban development sites and revitalise neighbourhoods.”

Fairfax Media reported in March that the independent directors were axed by the Napthine government but a spokeswoman for Places Victoria, the government’s land development agency, previously known as VicUrban, said the directors left this year because their terms had expired.

The article, published on 31 March, said state cabinet “decided last week to remove the non-government members of the board, sitting under controversial chairman, Ken Fehily”.

The board had expected to be reappointed, and in January had selected a new chief executive officer, Gregory Anderson – who, according to a recent statement from Places Victoria, was due to start today [31 March 2014].

Mr Fehily said he did not know why the non-government board members had not been invited to stand for another term.

The authority recorded an $18 million loss in its first year because of write-downs to its property portfolio and then went through a tough restructure.

Almost a third of its employees – the equivalent of 53 full-time positions – were sacked, and former chief executive officer, Sam Sangster, resigned, apparently under pressure.

Mr Sangster was one year into a five-year contract after falling out with Mr Fehily.

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