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June 25, 2021

Prime community asset up for sale in Ballina

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The former NORTEC building at 10 Endeavour Close, Ballina – photo David Lowe

NORTEC is selling off the last of its Ballina community assets, the former BETC (Ballina Employment and Training Centre) head office at 10 Endeavour Close, in the Southern Cross Industrial Estate.

Former BETC CEO Garry Bargh told Echonetdaily that the building was purpose-built in 1996. Originally used for training and administration, the site is ‘prime real estate’, with an internal area of 826 square metres, on a block of 2389 square metres, backing on to a lagoon.

‘NORTEC has not put one cent into the building,’ said Mr Bargh. ‘It was built by Ballina Employment and Training in 1996 following several years of fundraising by the BETC in the local community, through employment programs and tradie contributions. There were no government grants for this building.’

The real estate listing has no price listed for the building, describing it as a ‘unique freehold opportunity’. The Queensland-based agent is open to ‘offers to purchase.’

NORTEC became the owners of the Ballina building after BETC merged with TTEC, in Murwillumbah, in 2008. Then NORTEC was formed. Subsequently all real estate owned by BETC became the property of NORTEC.

According to Garry Bargh, ‘There was an understanding at the time that the real estate owned by BETC would be kept in community ownership and trust.’

Instead, NORTEC started selling off these assets, starting with the Ballina Small Business Incubator in Clark Street, then the Byron Incubator in Centennial Circuit, in spite of strong opposition from tenants and various levels of government. A number of people lost income as a result.

‘These incubators were built by BETC with state and federal government grants,’ said Mr Bargh. NORTEC ignored these objections and never replied or explained their actions or what they planned to do with the large sales income.’

Dark clouds hang over 10 Endeavour Close in Ballina – photo David Lowe

Mr Bargh is calling on NORTEC to return the building at 10 Endeavour Close to the community, saying ‘it would be ideal for community groups who struggle to pay commercial rent or for a TAFE annex. This would be the right and ethical thing to do.’

Although he ‘does not expect NORTEC to hand it over, given their past form,’ Mr Bargh added that he finds it ‘very distressing to think of the time, effort and fundraising that went into the building. There are very few assets like these that are in community ownership.’

NORTEC were approached for comment, but have not yet responded.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Smart move Nortec.
    With parts of Ballina being submerged on a regular basis by full moon high tides , the writing is on the wall for low lying coastal infrastrcture.
    This is Climate induced Ocean level rise, it is not going to stop.

  2. This doesn’t surprise anybody, does it ?
    These ” Service Providers ” were all set up to capitalise on the outsourcing of the CES role of persecuting the unemployed, thus protecting the Government at arms-length for their dirtywork. While posing as course providers and trainers, it has become obvious their only priority has been feathering their own nests at the expense of the unemployed and, of course the public purse.
    Cheers, G”)

  3. We used the CES a few times after returning to the workforce from study travel etc. They were always very helpful. I worked for a period with the partner agency Department of Social Security and the only “persecution” was ensuring benificiaries were looking for work, a not unreasonable condition of receiving support from fellow Australians. .
    It is demoralising for public servants to have to put up with these sort of gratuitous and innacurate comments.

  4. It was Paul Keating who introduced the first limited outsourcing of one area of CES work (case management) to private providers. The CES continued to provide this function plus all the others including job listing and referral. It wasn’t long before a coalition government had outsourced all CES work to private providers. Like so many other services that were supposed to benefit from privatisation I think many would say that the model of disparate and duplicate enterprises competing for government contracts, has resulted in a system that is more expensive, less efficient and way less effective for both employers and jobseekers. Sound familiar?

    I think there have been many good and well meaning people in both systems with the privatised system stymied by the simplistic corporate mindset that underpins its administration by government.

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