Inquiry issues scathing report into O’Farrell Government’s removal of horses from Yaralla Estate

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The Legislative Council inquiry into the O’Farrell Government’s decision to remove community horses from the historic Yaralla Estate has delivered a scathing report into the actions of the O’Farrell Government – and recommended that the horses be returned to the Estate’s paddocks.

The inquiry also recommended that the Legislative Council consider referring matters heard by the inquiry in relation to dealings between some contractors and the Liberal Party to the ICAC.

Shadow Minister for Environment and Planning Luke Foley initiated the parliamentary inquiry, with the support of the minor parties in the Upper House, to investigate the O’Farrell Government’s actions around the Yaralla Estate evictions.

In May the government evicted around 30 horses owned by members of the local community from the public paddocks at the historic Yaralla Estate in Concord.

This was despite the estate being bequeathed to the people in 1938 and set aside for public space and the agistment of local horses, as well as health services.

The Committee found that the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) did not undertake genuine community consultation and that it poorly managed the decision making process.
The cross party committee has also recommended that the management of the Yaralla Estate be stripped from the SLHD and handed over to a more appropriate agency such as the Centennial Parklands Trust.

“This report highlights the outrageous treatment of local community members and their horses by the O’Farrell Government,” Mr Foley said.

“The O’Farrell Government needs to listen to the inquiry and the local community and return the horses to the Estate.

“I said from the beginning that this was an equine scandal far greater than the More Joyous affair – and the findings of this inquiry confirm the communities concerns.”
In initiating a parliamentary inquiry, Mr Foley revealed:

• A secret deal was signed between two arms of the Government to move the Mounted Police horses to the Yaralla Estate without going to tender – at the expense of local community horses;

• Following intense scrutiny, the Government was forced to put the contract out for public tender, but internal Health documents confirmed the fix was still in and the Mounted Police was still the preferred tenderer;

• The Government originally entered into a ‘mates rates’ deal with the Mounted Police, signing away the public paddocks for a fraction of what community horse owners were paying; and

• A Liberal Party donor wrote the ‘independent’ audit that was used by the Health Minister and her bureaucrats to force the local horses off the estate.