Sartor: Keneally discussed plan for North Eveleigh with Sydney Uni
Keneally devised a plan to 'compensate' Sydney University for its `loss' of the Callan Park opportunity as Planning minister, by offering it the North Eveleigh site in Redfern, which had been prepared for tender. She convened a meeting with the university's Professor Richmond Jeremy to discuss this option within two weeks of becoming minister. This deal was to be subject to some 'separation in time' so that the two issues wouldn't seem related. Callan Park was to be a political gift for Firth (MP for Balmain) and North Eveleigh one for Carmel Tebbutt (MP for Marrickville).
Keneally had quietly set up a parallel process to the Redfern—Waterloo Authority's (RWA) publicly stated process of taking the North Eveleigh site to market. By October she had arranged for negotiations to occur between the university and the NSW coordinator-general's office, after David Richmond had been sidelined from his position.This was done without any advice to the RWA or its board, which continued to implement the pre-existing Cabinet decision to put the site up for sale by open, competitive tender. She wrote to the university on the issue without bothering to inform the relevant authorities.
The problem with this arrangement was that the North Eveleigh site had been prepared for the market and was valued at about $100 million. Cabinet had also approved the proceeds of the North Eveleigh sale to go towards a major upgrade of Redfern Station.
Sources reveal that the university was only prepared to pay some $30 million, and so the 'deal' didn't go ahead. Obviously the punctilious Roy Wakelin King (CEO of the Redfern—Waterloo Authority) never found a way to justify this potential $70 million loss in sale revenue for his boss.
The North Eveleigh proposal was poor policy. The university's use of the precinct would have been an under-utilisation of a key site for urban consolidation, a policy that can only be achieved with the use of such strategic spaces. As well, it would have cost the state money, for no public benefit.
By July 2011, the government had still not resolved the transfer issues concerning Callan Park with Leichhardt Council ...
Source: The Fog on the Hill - How NSW Labor Lost its Way
by Frank Sartor Melbourne University Press 2011 pp120-122
Note: This extract has been made using optical character recognition and may contain some errors. It is provided for community comment and debate. Please refer to the original book to ensure correct citation - REDWatch