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Bold vision for technology park blurred in a haze of debt - 29.11.2004

One of the many things to emerge from the confidential government papers is the financial troubles of the taxpayer-funded experiment, Australian Technology Park.

The business park occupies almost 14 hectares of the former Eveleigh railway workshops site and is home to four university departments and more than 100 high-technology businesses.
The papers show that since it was established in 1995, the park has cost money: it is $38 million in debt, having lost $4 million last year alone. The park is owned and run by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

Under the Government's new plan for Redfern, responsibility for the park would be transferred to the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and the debt taken over by the State Government.
The plan calls for government funding for five more years until the park can become financially viable under the auspices of the Redfern authority.
"The authority will need to review the business plan, following the transfer from SHFA, to reflect the changed business environment flowing out of the decisions ..." the documents say.
"It is expected that RWA will review the master plan for the [park] to increase the supply of employment land in Redfern/Waterloo and encourage additional uses for the site by modifying floor space ratios on new buildings only."

The papers show that by deviating from the present plan for the park and increasing floor space ratios, the number of jobs at the site could swell from 6500 to 15,000. "In this scenario, more labour-intensive development would co-exist with the high-technology industry currently supported by the master plan."

By Gerard Ryle and Debra Jopson

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald
November 29, 2004