Barangaroo Development

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SpeakersParker Mr Jamie
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV

Page: 19984

Mr JAMIE PARKER (Balmain) [6.10 p.m.]: This evening I again raise my ongoing concerns regarding the former New South Wales Labor Government's sale of Barangaroo to Lend Lease, particularly the lack of transparency and the possibility of corruption in the process. The Supreme Court recently heard a dispute between the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Lend Lease over the size of the final value share payment to be paid by Lend Lease to the Barangaroo Delivery Authority. The chief executive officer of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, John Tabart, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying that the dispute is "very serious", indicating that a decision in favour of Lend Lease will result in the Government not only not receiving a fair price but also possibly failing to recover the cost of the public works and transport infrastructure associated with it. We know that that figure is many hundreds of millions of dollars. The case is being heard in open court. However, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Lend Lease have both urged the court to keep secret the details of what the New South Wales Government is to receive from Lend Lease.

Community group Australians for Sustainable Development has sought to discover the details of the Barangaroo South tender process and of the competing tenders. Lend Lease and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority are vigorously opposing disclosure. It is a disgrace that not only has the New South Wales public been denied fair value for this land but also both the former Labor Government and, it seems, the current Liberal Government, have refused to provide transparent details of the deal. As I have outlined previously in this House, at the very least the Government has been underpaid around $1 billion for the Barangaroo site. That money could have been spent on education, hospitals, transport infrastructure and much more. The Barangaroo Delivery Authority's continued resistance to disclosing information in the public interest makes a mockery of the O'Farrell Government's election promise of transparency and accountability. Without transparency and open access to government information, we are in danger of seeing more Eddie Obeids and Ian Macdonalds emerge.

Speaking of Eddie Obeid, why is the Government not investigating the possibly corrupt actions that led to this dud deal with Lend Lease? The people of New South Wales deserve answers. Why did Eddie Obeid pressure then Premier Iemma and planning Minister Sartor to approve a gross overdevelopment of Barangaroo? Why, when Sartor refused, was he replaced with Kristina Keneally, who promptly approved that overdevelopment? Why did Keneally, as planning Minister, take control of Barangaroo from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority—which had successfully negotiated a fair price for Darling Quarter—and give it instead to the newly created Barangaroo Delivery Authority? Former Minister Sartor said that this was completely unnecessary as the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority already had the necessary structure in place to handle Barangaroo.

It was only an appeal to the Information Commissioner that made the deal on Darling Quarter public. That deal demonstrates again that the value of the Darling Quarter—which is landlocked and bound by the Western Distributor—was significantly more than Lend Lease paid for Barangaroo, which is a better, higher-value property. Was the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority seen as an impediment to a process that was to result in the sale of the Barangaroo South development rights to Lend Lease at what has emerged as being half its market value? The fact is that the Barangaroo Delivery Authority did not attempt to take account of the market value of Barangaroo when considering tenders and negotiations for the site.

What is the connection between Keneally's compliance with Obeid's lobbying and Lend Lease Ventures' $25-million investment in the company Better Places, which obtained a contract to install electric vehicle charging stations at Barangaroo? Is it a coincidence that Ben Keneally owns more than three million shares in this company and that Talal Yassine, a member of Eddie Obeid's Terrigals faction, also owns more than three million shares? What was Paul Keating's involvement in the process? When he was chairman of the Barangaroo Design Excellence Review Panel, as well as a chairman of the Lazard Investment Bank, he made no secret of championing and lobbying for Lend Lease's design for Barangaroo. Is it just coincidence that Lend Lease is a favoured client of Lazard? The Lazard Investment Bank was also credited with brokering the Lend Lease investment in Better Places—another coincidence? Is it again coincidental that Lend Lease had, only a short time earlier, been selected as the preferred tenderer for Barangaroo? As chairman of the Design Excellence Review Panel, what role did Paul Keating have in a decision to ignore completely the true value of Barangaroo?

Why has the Crown Casino bid for a gaming licence in the Lend Lease hotel at Barangaroo not been subject to a competitive tender process? The Government talks about competition and transparency but there was no tender and no competitive process. How much extra value does the licence create for the Lend Lease Barangaroo project and will Lend Lease be asked to pay more for this extra value? We have heard nothing of this matter, of the huge windfall that it will create for Lend Lease, with no additional money for the taxpayer. I will be referring this matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I call on the Premier to investigate and make public all aspects of the deal, including the value received for the development and the leasing rights, versus the true market value of those rights. I call on the Premier to investigate the roles of Eddie Obeid, Kristina Keneally, Paul Keating and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority in achieving a $1 billion windfall for Lend Lease and an equivalent loss to the taxpayers of New South Wales.