The sale of Crown Land on the Central Coast has been referred to ICAC by Greens MP David Shoebridge following the revelation that the sale of land adjacent to Woy Woy Bowling Club was only advertised in a small, regional publication 270km from the site.
The Crown Lands Act requires notice of intention to sell be made in ‘a newspaper circulating in the locality in which the land is situated or in a newspaper circulating generally in the State’, but notice was only advertised in the Batemans Bay Moruya Post on the South Coast, 5 hours from the affected community.
Following a statutory valuation of the land at $120,000 the land was sold for only $38,000 to a developer via direct dealing and without a land assessment.
Greens MP and spokesperson for Local Government and Crown Lands David Shoebridge said:
“This public land was sold in a private dealing at a discount price to a local developer in breach of all notification requirements.
“The department itself said that it could be valued as high as $120,000, but it was sold at a fraction of that. Who are they kidding? This is another ‘only in NSW’ story.
“The idea that it is adequate public notice to advertise a sale of Crown Land in a newspaper on essentially the opposite side of the State is laughable.
“This has been a contentious development for many residents of the area and to be excluded from even basic notification is an insult.
“The cosy relationship between developers and planning authorities regularly cheats New South Wales residents of public assets and a fair return.
“This sale shows the systemic failure of our planning system and how technical readings of requirements can be used to circumvent the system.
“This is a shameful breach of the controls, and that’s 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.”