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Groom's CH Smith 'Project Chase' Evasion

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tags: Coordinator-General, Transparency, Subsidies

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens' Leader and State Growth spokesperson

Minister Groom's continued obfuscation over the government's involvement in the CH Smith project raises far more questions than it answers.

The Greens, just like everyone else, recognise the CH Smith site is an eyesore, but negotiations with developers involving taxpayer funds should be conducted transparently.  In this case, they have not been, which is a feature of everything the Office of the Coordinator General is involved in under this Liberal Government.

If everything is above board, if there have been no secret assurances about a long term government rental contract to make the redevelopment viable, why are the Liberals hiding it in the secretive Office of the Coordinator General?

Despite numerous questions from the Greens on negotiations over a project code-named 'Project Chase', Mr Groom refused to acknowledge the involvement of his opaque, stand-alone Office of the Coordinator General in the development.

To name the project and seek to cover it up through 'Commercial in Confidence' is anything but transparent.  You don't give something a code name, unless you're trying to hide something.

When asked if the guarantee of government rental contract were used as an incentive to prospective developers and a key part of development negotiations, the Minister repeatedly evaded answering.  He tried to fob the questions off to the Treasurer, who is not responsible for the Office of the Coordinator General.

The questions Matthew Groom refused to answer included whether or not any audit had been sought on the need for new government accommodation in Launceston or any advice sought to reassure Ministers that this deal is in the public interest and an appropriate, efficient use of public money.

The contract with the Hodgman Government for long term office rent is a substantial, stable, investment for any developer. 

The unanswered question remains, was this long term government rental contract offered as an inducement by the Office of the Coordinator General to potential developers of the CH Smith site?