Sydney Times

NSW Opposition STATE POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

ANDREW CONSTANCE SPENT MILLIONS BUYING TOXIC LAND FROM WESTERN SYDNEY DEVELOPER WITHOUT BOTHERING WITH A VALUATION

Written by City Reporter

ANDREW CONSTANCE SPENT MILLIONS BUYING TOXIC LAND FROM WESTERN SYDNEY DEVELOPER WITHOUT BOTHERING WITH A VALUATION

 

NSW Labor has condemned Transport Minister Andrew Constance for spending millions buying a toxic parcel of land from a major property developer without getting it valued.

 

The developer Bilbergia had bought the site at 4-6 Grand Avenue Camellia for $38.5 million in late 2015.

 

Just seven months later, Minister Constance’s agency paid them $53.5 million for the six hectares of contaminated land for the Parramatta Light Rail project – well above the $15.5 million the Valuer-General said the land was worth at the time.

 

According to the opposition spokesperson Daniel Mookhey,…“A secret Transport for New South Wales report, handed to the NSW Upper House, confirms the Minister’s agency failed to get the land valued before agreeing to the deal.”

 

NSW Labor’s Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business Daniel Mookhey said the report was stupefying.

 

“Andrew Constance’s department broke speed records to pay way above market buying a toxic site from a property developer without bothering to check what it was worth.

 

“It’s clear that Andrew Constance’s department was dancing to this developer’s tune.

 

“This developer made a massive profit by flipping six hectares of toxic land to the Minister’s hapless department.

 

The audit also says the Minister’s agency failed to do due diligence on the site before acquiring it, despite asbestos, arsenic and the cancer-creating carcinogen chromium contaminating the soil.

 

Internal Transport For New South Wales documents show approval for the acquisition was originally conditional on the developer agreeing to clean up the site. But taxpayers ended up paying for the remediation. The cost is already $52 million.

 

Last month Minister Constance all but confirmed his decision to abandon Stage Two of the Parramatta Light Rail project despite his Government’s promise at two successive elections to build the project.

 

Mr Mookhey said: “Mr Constance has achieved a trifecta of incompetence. He paid way above market value to buy toxic land for a project he’s set to abandon.”

 

“Taxpayers have every right to feel outraged by the Minister’s incompetence. It has cost them millions.”

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