Belmont Golf Club Ltd Development
|About this Item||Subjects||Clubs; Planning and Development; Government Department: New South Wales: Gaming and Racing
||Speakers||Crittenden Mr Paul
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mr PAUL CRITTENDEN (Wyong) [6.12 p.m.]: On 18 November I advised the House that the mysterious guidelines of the Department of Gaming and Racing concerning its alleged optional enforcement of the section 41J amendments to the Registered Clubs Amendment Act enacted in December 2003 had finally materialised. I am now advised by my solicitor, Mr Tim Kelly, that the guidelines had no sanction in either the Act or the regulations. On 17 November the Director-General of the Department of Gaming and Racing, Mr K. M. Brown, advised that he proposed taking no action in respect of the breaches under section 41J of the Act on the quite extra-legal basis of a view formed by him or his officers on the basis of material he has refused to disclose to my solicitor that the disposal has generally been for the benefit of the members of the club.
The board or management of the club could, had it wished, have sought the approval of the members at the general meeting on 20 July before entering into any contracts with the $2 company Kalayla Pty Ltd. It deliberately refrained from doing so and instead presented the members with a fait accompli done earlier that day or the previous day. Mr Brown now purports to exercise a judgment in a quite extra-legal fashion as to what was for the benefit of the members, without stating any reasons, and based on material that he refuses to disclose. The purpose of the 2003 amendments, as presented by the Minister to the Parliament, were to restrain just this sort of activity by the board or management of a registered club. No mention was made to the Parliament of Mr Brown's intended flexible approach to enforcing the legislation. The potential losers in all of this are the members of the Belmont Golf Club, who in the main are persons of modest means who built the place up from scratch.
What has occurred within the club is no mere administrative oversight. It involves the disposal of prime oceanfront land to a city developer, when no valuation or financial analysis was obtained on behalf of the club—certainly none that has ever been presented to the members of the club—and when no approval was given by a general meeting to the contracts entered into with a $2 company on behalf of the club. My solicitor, Mr Kelly, wrote to the director-general on 29 November posing 12 questions. I should point out that I am quoting only part of my solicitor's letter and that he has advised that Kalayla Pty Ltd was incorporated on 7 July 2004. The questions were as follows:
(1) When were the updated "guidelines" enclosed with your letter of 17 November 2004 adopted by you?
(2) Have you or your department been presented with any evidence of an agreement entered into on behalf of Belmont Golf Club, prior to 9 April 2004, with:
(a) Kalayla Pty Ltd; and/or
(b) any other entity in the Terrace Tower group?
(3) If so, we again request a copy of any such evidence. (We point out that we were invited by the President of the Club to pursue our enquiries with your department.)
(4) Have you or your department ever been presented with a valuation by an independent valuer or a financial analysis obtained on behalf of the club in respect of the land involved or in respect of the contracts with Kalayla Pty Ltd?
(5) If so, we request a copy of that valuation or financial analysis on the same basis as in (3) above.
(6) When were you or your department first approached:
(a) by anyone from the Board or management of the Club; and
(b) from anyone from or on behalf of the Terrace Tower Group of companies,
in relation to this mater?
(7) What criteria have you or your department adopted in determining whether a disposal has generally been for the benefit of members of the Club? Have any such criteria been reduced to writing? If so, please let us have a copy of any such written criteria.
(8) If such criteria have not been reduced to writing, are we to understand that the determination of the benefit to the members has been left to the personal opinion of one of the officers of your department? If not, how have such criteria been communicated to the officers within your department?
(9) Who are the officers within your department who are empowered to decide under your "guidelines" whether any particular transaction in non-compliance with section 41J "has generally been for the benefit of members of the Club"?
(10) How many other registered clubs have approached you or your department seeking that you take no action in respect of a transaction in breach of section 41J?
(11) In respect of how many other registered clubs have you or your department taken a decision to take no action in respect of a breach of section 41J?
(12) You advise in your letter of 17 November 2004 that "in accordance with departmental policy, I will not be making available to you any correspondence passing between the department or myself and Belmont Golf Club". Has that "departmental policy" been reduced to writing? If so, please let us have a copy. If not in writing what is the content of such policy, when and by whom was such policy adopted and how has such policy been communicated to the officers of your department?
I look forward to the Minister encouraging the director-general to answer these very important questions. I wish the Minister and the officers of his department a very happy Christmas and I look forward to pursuing this matter in the New Year. I hope we can resolve this matter satisfactorily because there are a number of very important issues at stake.