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ComLand sale completed.



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4 June 2004 40/04

ComLand Sale Completed

The Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator Nick Minchin, announced today that the Australian Government had completed the sale of ComLand Limited to Lend Lease.

The Government announced on 22 January 2004 that it had agreed to sell ComLand to Lend Lease for $165 million. Since January, legal documentation has been completed and the consent of the NSW Government to the transfer of ComLand has been obtained.

ComLand’s principal asset is its interest in development projects at the former Australian Defence Industries (ADI) site at St Marys in western Sydney and at the Edgewater site at Maribyrnong in Melbourne. Lend Lease is ComLand’s joint venture partner in the projects.

“It is important to realise that the sale of ComLand does not change in any way the nature of the development at St Mary’s,” Senator Minchin said.

“The fact is that it was the Keating Labor Government in 1994 that had the then-government-owned ADI sign a development agreement with Lend Lease.

“It was the Howard Government, working closely with the Member for Lindsay, Jackie Kelly, which rejected initial plans for an 8,000 block development on the site.

“Instead the ADI site will be a balanced development, with the sections of environmentally sensitive Cumberland Plain woodland locked away in 850 hectares of parkland, while 5,000 housing blocks will be developed on the non-environmentally sensitive sections of the site.

“In addition, Lend Lease has undertaken to build a Central Park with ovals; netball, basketball and tennis courts; cycleways; and other recreational facilities for the local community.

“The NSW Government has approved the overall zoning regime for the site. The NSW Government and local councils will have an ongoing role in approving the detailed development plans for the site, including the Central Park.

“I commend ComLand, Lend Lease, the NSW Government and the local councils for their roles in designing and approving what is a much needed development for the people of western Sydney.

The proceeds of sale, less $25 million of ComLand’s debt, will be applied to reducing Commonwealth debt. Independent valuations have determined that the sale of price of $165 million is fair.

“Critics of the sale price have suggested that the value of the site should simply be calculated at 1,545 hectares multiplied by the going rate for a fully developed housing block. This analysis ignores the fact that two thirds of the site is being locked away in parkland, which can never be sold.

“Also, Lend Lease will need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the remaining third of the site. Lend Lease bears all of the financial and development risk of the project over the next fifteen years.

“So it is ridiculous to compare the price of a greenfields undeveloped site that is two-thirds parkland with the price of a fully developed housing estate,” Senator Minchin concluded.

Minister’s media contact: Jennifer Eddy 02 62777400