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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Michael McGowan

NSW building commissioner who raised concerns about minister and developer cancels resignation

Victor Dominello at a press conference
NSW’s fair trading minister, Victor Dominello, has said David Chandler will remain as the state’s building commissioner until August next year. Photograph: Flavio Brancaleone/AAP

The New South Wales building commissioner, David Chandler, has decided to stay in the role, less than two months after he raised concerns in a resignation letter about the “advised relationship” between his former minister and a property developer.

Chandler’s surprise resignation in early July, just months after signing a new contract, came after he raised concerns about former fair trading minister Eleni Petinos.

The letter, which was later released through parliament, referred to an advised relationship between Petinos and Sydney property developer Coronation Property, which hired former deputy premier John Barilaro after he left parliament.

In the letter Chandler said those concerns “crystallised” after he issued a stop-work order on a 790-apartment development in Merrylands owned by Coronation. He detailed a series of contacts from Petinos and the developer in the letter.

He said that “important pieces of previously canvassed legislation have now run into serious disruption” under Petinos.

The letter has since been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac) out of what the premier, Dominic Perrottet, described as “an abundance of caution”.

Petinos was later sacked from cabinet by Perrottet, after media reports of unrelated bullying allegations. Petinos has repeatedly denied all allegations against her.

It was revealed on Thursday that Chandler’s resignation letter was sent to Perrottet’s office just four hours before the premier sacked Petinos, though the premier has insisted the two events were not linked.

Since Petinos’s sacking, the government has privately been urging Chandler, a 50-year industry veteran, to remain in the role.

In a statement on Friday the new fair trading minister, Victor Dominello, said Chandler would remain in the role until August next year.

He said the commissioner had “made significant contributions to building industry reform in this state and I am happy the work can continue under his leadership”.

In a tweet, Dominello said that he was “a big fan” of Chandler.

“David [Chandler] is focused on fixing problems and is not afraid to call out bad buildings, bad developers and lack of transparency,” he said.

Chandler’s resignation has been a headache for the Perrottet government. The premier has denied reading the resignation letter before the Department of Customer Service’s secretary, Emma Hogan, referred it to Icac.

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