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Point Nepean falls victim to Howard Government greed.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

25 August 2003

POINT NEPEAN FALLS VICTIM TO HOWARD GOVERNMENT GREED

The aborted sale of 90 hectares of Defence land at Point Nepean again highlights the Howard Government’s record of mismanagement and playing politics with Defence asset sales.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence effectively admitted today that she had bungled the planned sale of Point Nepean from the very beginning.

The latest episode in this sorry tale will see the Howard Government lease the 90 hectares of remaining land to a person or persons unknown for the next 50 years. There are still no guarantees that the land will be protected from development.

The Howard Government has played politics with the Point Nepean land from the start. It arrogantly refused to deal with the Victorian Government and ignored the wishes of the community by insisting that the land be sold to the highest bidder.

The Government’s intransigence over Point Nepean contrasts with its approach during the 1998 election campaign when John Howard stepped in and gifted several Defence sites on Sydney Harbour to the people of New South Wales.

The Government paid $100 million through the Federation Fund to undertake maintenance and remediation work at these sites.

The Government also shored-up Jackie Kelly’s hold on her marginal seat in the 2001 election by promising to preserve 850 hectares of ex-ADI land in Western Sydney.

The Point Nepean saga is another example of political interference by the Howard Government in a major Defence tender process.

The most notable case was in 2001 when then Minister Peter Reith set aside a tender round because of the impact it was having in marginal seats. The six bidders were then paid $1 million each in compensation.

Labor believes that it would be a tragedy if Point Nepean were to fall victim to the politicking and greed of the Howard Government. It calls on the Government to transfer this heritage site in full to Victoria so that it can be preserved for future generations.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617