Overpriced land at Western Sydney was bargain, says Deputy PM

written by Adam Thorn | September 28, 2020
WSA2New
Concept art showing the new Western Sydney Airport terminal, which will begin construction at the end of 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has defended the government’s decision to purchase land next to Western Sydney Airport for 10 times as much as its actual value.

Speaking to 2GB Radio on Monday, Deputy PM McCormack said the sale would eventually be seen as a “bargain”.

Last week, it was revealed the Commonwealth bought the 12.26 hectares at Bringelly off Leppington Pastoral Company for almost $30 million in July 2018, which is eventually planned to be used for the airport’s second runway.

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However, less than a year later, the federal Department of Infrastructure’s accounts showed it actually valued the land at $3.065 million, or a tenth of the price.

“I appreciate that, yes, it was very much over the odds, I appreciate there’s a review going on into how that actually happened,” Deputy PM McCormack said. “But eventually when there is a need [for] more runways and more infrastructure to be built at Western Sydney Airport, they’ll look back and say, probably, ‘What a bargain that was’.”

However, he did concede that “there should have been better processes around it” even though it will in time be seen as a “very good investment”.

His comments come despite Federal Auditor-General Grant Hehir arguing the department didn’t exercise proper due diligence on its purchase, adding that the agency’s operations “fell short” of ethical standards.

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It also subsequently transpired NSW had paid 22 times less per hectare for a 1.36-hectare slice of the so-called ‘Leppington triangle’.

The purchase was needed for a realignment of a road, which was a key link between Narellan and the M4 motorway.

Earlier this month, Western Sydney Airport confirmed construction of its new passenger terminal will begin at the end of next year, with the winning contractor picked in mid-2021.

The business also said the project is still on course to welcome up to 10 million passengers in 2026. It’s hoped more than 80 million people will travel through each year in the 2060s.

The news comes three months after the airport confirmed that construction of a new rail link to St Marys station would begin soon, and a $2.6 billion industrial precinct will open next year.

Since initial earthworks marked the start of work to build Western Sydney International in September 2018, around 1 million worker hours have been racked up on the project and 1.8 million cubic metres of earth moved around the site.

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5 Comments

  • Brett

    says:

    Is it just me or is Michael McCormack not the sharpest tool in the shed. I’ve heard a few interviews recently and while I don’t generally like politicians the ones that get to the top usually have a modicum of intelligence about them but I can’t see that in his case.

  • Ben

    says:

    Buying something at 10 times market value is a bargain? Riiiiiiight…

  • David Lewis

    says:

    The white elephant of the future! And whom, might one ask is Leppington Pastoral Company? What are their links to public servants, politicians? What lobbying was undertaken by them or by the public servants and politicians? Lots of unanswered questions with the Australian public, as usual, taken for a complete ride!

  • Linda Weaving

    says:

    If McCormack thinks $30 million for 12 hectares is a bargain, he must think the peanuts paid to all those who AREN’T billionaires or Liberal Party donors is an absolute windfall! What an insult to all those forced from their homes, off their farms, and out of their businesses!

  • Linda Weaving

    says:

    That airport is a complete waste of taxpayer money! That useless metro train to nowhere even more so! Who could be so ignorant or naive as to think airlines & passengers will choose to use an airport 60km & 1hr+ journey time from the city! In outer suburbia, home to Sydney’s poorest, with the lowest demand for air travel & nothing of interest to tourists! It’s Avalon all over again. Or even more likely – Australia’s Mirabel. Nothing but a politician’s wankfest and vessel of corruption. The overspend on land is only the tip of the corruption iceberg surrounding that project. However, it’s now on the way to being a poisoned chalice.

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