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Wednesday, 1 November 2000
Page: 21970

Mr Brereton asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 7 September 2000:

(1) Does his Department have proposals to sell-off its extensive Bundock Street site in the electoral division of Kingsford-Smith.

(2) Does the Bundock Street site include premises leased to The Children's Garden Rudolf Steiner School by his Department.

(3) Is he aware of the very valuable educational role of this school and its reputation for excellence.

(4) Is he able to say whether the school spent tens of thousands of dollars on the rehabilitation of the buildings it occupies and regularly spent further monies on extensive remediation of the surrounding land.

(5) Did his Department commit itself to allow the school to continue in its premises as part of the proposed development of the Bundock Street site.

(6) Did his Department indicate to the school that it would be offered a new lease so that it would not be left homeless and its existence not threatened by his Department's desire to sell off the Bundock Street site.

(7) Has his Department reneged on its commitments and is now threatening the school with eviction upon expiry of its current lease on 31 December 2000.

(8) Is he able to say whether the school council has been obliged to condemn his Departments statements concerning the Bundock Street site and the future of the School as generally misleading and in some instances completely false.

(9) Is he aware that his Department's actions have caused enormous anxiety amongst the school community and threatens the school's viability and survival.

(10) Will he intervene in this matter and ensure his Department does not force the closure of The Children's Garden Rudolf Steiner School.

Mr Moore (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's questions is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes.

(3) I am aware of the School and its activities.

(4) Defence has not been advised of the total amount of money spent by the School on the buildings it occupies. Defence understands that the works were undertaken to refurbish the building and to cover contaminated material with landscaping.

(5) No commitment has ever been given by Defence for the School to remain in its current location as part of the proposed development of the Bundock Street site.

(6) A press release issued in October 1999 included an offer for the School to lease a different part of the site, anticipated to be adjacent to a proposed new community facility included in Defence's development application for the surplus land at Randwick. Prior to December 1999, it was expected that the site would be ready for development at the end of 2000. This will not occur, as there have been delays in progressing the disposal planning with the Randwick City Council. The offer was also dependent on the School providing a submission on its future plans and agreeing commercial terms. The School was informed in November 1999 that any such arrangement would be short term.

(7) The School was advised in December 1999 that the current lease would not be renewed. There are contamination issues associated with the existing site and pre-disposal activities need to be undertaken. The School has been encouraged by Defence to address its future plans, but despite many requests from the Department, a submission was not provided until June 2000. The submission, which sought a 49 year lease, did not provide the information required by the Department and the School was advised of the inadequacy of the submission. In the meantime, there have been delays in relation to Randwick Council's consideration of Defence's development applications and the subsequent requirement for a site Masterplan. The opportunity to accommodate the School within the new development as originally envisaged has now passed.

(8) I cannot comment on the views of the School Council. The Department of Defence has endeavoured to assist the School establish itself in the Randwick area and cannot be held responsible for the current predicament of the School.

(9) See answer (8).

(10) No. The Department is not responsible for the current situation.