PREMIER CONTINUES TO HIDE FROM THE TRUTH ON DARLEY ROAD SITE IN LEICHHARDT

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has once again refused to answer questions about the controversy surrounding the decision to ignore expert advice and grant a 20-year lease extension of valuable public land without going to public tender.

Today is the eighth occasion in Question Time that the State Labor Opposition has asked the Premier about the issue[i].

When Ms Berejiklian was Transport Minister her department signed off on a non-competitive extension of the lease of land in Darley Road, Leichhardt, despite earlier advice by her bureaucrats that it should go out to public tender.

The site is now home to a massive Dan Murphy’s bottle shop but is needed for WestConnex and will cost an estimated $50 million dollars for the state government to buy it back.

In 2011 Transport for New South Wales received advice that the correct course of action would be to put the lease of the land out to public tender

But then, inexplicably, the Department sought a second opinion from another probity advisor and, in the space of a fortnight, recommended the lease be extended to the existing leaseholders, Tdrahhciel, for another 20 years.

Tdrahhciel engaged the former Liberal leader Kerry Chikarovski to lobby the government to extend the lease.

Tdrahhciel then sublet the site to Dan Murphys. The estimated cost to the taxpayer of buying back the site for use as a dive site for the toll road has been estimated at $50 million.

The Labor Opposition last month referred the matter of the lease to the Independent Commission against Corruption.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

The Premier needs to give a full and comprehensive account of her involvement over the lease of Darley Road.

“When she was Transport Minister she was happy to talk about timetable changes and new trains but she is running scared about her government’s record. She said she was happy to stand by her decisions but apparently not to explain them.

“She has abjectly failed to give any explanation as to why her bureaucrats changed their minds in the space of a fortnight. She must explain why her department suddenly went against the advice of its experts and handed over the lease to the owners.

“Now the taxpayer is left with the bill of up to $50 million to buy back the site for WestConnex. It is a shocking waste of money and an indictment on the Premier that under her watch the community will be the losers.