A public land giveaway that occurred in near-secret has been referred to ICAC by Greens MP David Shoebridge. The sale raises grave concerns about the integrity of the remainder of the $9 billion plus in public lands sales that have occurred under the NSW Coalition Government.
The prime public waterfront land on the NSW Central Coast was sold in 2015 for just $38,000, significantly below its real value, and despite internal valuations putting it at least $120,000.
The land sale was negotiated in behind closed doors without going to market. Once the deal was done the proposed sale was only advertised in a distant newspaper, a 5 hour drive from the site published in Batemans Bay, in breach of legal requirements under the Crown Lands Act.
Greens MP and spokesperson for Crown Lands David Shoebridge said:
“This was prime waterfront land on the Central Coast, but its proposed sale was only notified in a small, regional newspaper based in Batemans Bay.
“The department itself put a potential value on the site of $120,000, but even that undervalued this prime waterfront site. In the end it was sold at a fraction of that. This is another ‘only in NSW’ story.
“This government’s multi-billion dollar fire sale of public land has robbed New South Wales residents of public assets and a fair return.
“From the outset this was a contentious proposal that has seen a much loved local bowling club being sold off for development. For many residents of the area to then be excluded from even basic notification is an added insult.
“It is quite literally unbelievable that the only notice given by the Coalition of the proposed sale of the land was in a small local newspaper 270 km away from the site.
“We have uncovered these failings after constant digging for the truth and we now need ICAC to look at not just this sale, but the thousands of other public sites sold off by the Coalition.
“This is a shameful breach of trust and a clear breach of the law and this is why I have referred it to the ICAC,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard.”