THE ACT Opposition has pounced on the Chief Minister’s revelation that the government was in negotiations with the Tradies Club to find a solution to the controversial and widely criticised Dickson land swap deal that has beleaguered the Labor Party.
Andrew Barr confirmed yesterday (June 19) during an Assembly Estimates hearing that the negotiations were taking place.
“The Labor government is negotiating with the CFMEU-backed Tradies to extend a lease included in a scandalous deal that has been widely condemned,” says Opposition Leader Alistair Coe.
“The fact that the Chief Minister is in negotiations with the Tradies to see if another deal can be signed shows that the Labor government has absolutely no integrity.
“This is exactly why Canberra needs strong new laws to expose corruption in Canberra.
“In this deal, the auditor-general found that the ACT Labor government relinquished taxpayers’ money to the value of $2.65 million to the CFMEU-backed Tradies.
“While Canberrans are being gouged through rates, taxes, fees and charges, mates of the Labor movement can get rent for $1 per year.
“This is scandalous, and the deal should be terminated with all public money recovered.
“This scandalous deal should be the first that is referred to an Anti-Corruption Commission when it is established,” Mr Coe concluded.
Coe characterised the deal as:
- Government paid $3.9 million to the Tradies Club for a building housing the CFMEU headquarters.
- Government rented back the building to the Tradies for $1 per year “if and when demanded”.
- Auditor-general said the ACT government “relinquished considerable financial value to the Tradies” with an upper range of $2.4 – $2.65 million.
- Auditor-general said: “There is also a high risk that the Directorate sold Block 30 Section 34 to the Tradies in breach of the Planning and Development Act 2007.”
- Former NSW Auditor-General Tony Harris said if this deal came before him in NSW he would have sent if to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.