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March 8, 2021

Public land being sold under market value

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The sale of public land significantly under its market value in Woy Woy on the central coast by the NSW coalition government in 2015 has outraged the local community and led to questions about the ethics around the continuing sale of public land by the government.

Greens MP David Shoebridge has referred the sale of prime waterfront land in Woy Woy to ICAC saying the sale raises grave concerns about the integrity of the remainder of the $9 billion plus of public lands sales that have occurred under the NSW coalition government.

It is understood that the land sale was negotiated behind closed doors without going to market. Once the deal was done the proposed sale was only advertised in a distant newspaper in Batemans Bay, a five hour drive from the site, in breach of legal requirements under the Crown Lands Act.

The Act requires that the sale of public land is advertised either in a state wide newspaper or in a newspaper with prominent circulation in the area where the land is being sold said Mr Shoebridge.

‘This was prime waterfront land on the Central Coast, but its proposed sale was only notified in a small, regional newspaper based in Batemans Bay,’ said Mr Shoebridge.

The prime public waterfront land on the NSW Central Coast was sold in 2015 for just $38,000, significantly below its real value, and despite internal valuations suggesting a sale price should be at least $120,000.

According to the ABC residents started asking questions about the sale ‘shortly after the development application was lodged for a four-story apartment block for seniors on the site which also includes the local bowling club and sits at the edge of the waterfront with a playground, bike track and walking path.’

‘This government’s multi-billion dollar fire sale of public land has robbed New South Wales residents of public assets and a fair return,’ said Mr Shoebridge.

‘From the outset this was a contentious proposal that has seen a much loved local bowling club being sold off for development. For many residents of the area to then be excluded from even basic notification is an added insult.

‘Firstly, this is clearly a gross underpayment for the site and secondly, it is a gross breach of notification requirements.

‘It is quite literally unbelievable that the only notice given by the coalition of the proposed sale of the land was in a small local newspaper 270km away (380km by car) from the site.

‘We have uncovered these failings after constant digging for the truth and we now need ICAC to look at not just this sale, but the thousands of other public sites sold off by the Coalition.

‘This is a shameful breach of trust and a clear breach of the law and this is why I have referred it to the ICAC,’ Mr Shoebridge said.

♦ Neither The Echo or MP David Shoebridge are suggesting there was any wrongdoing by the developer.


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