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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7440

Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (10:55): Many of the suburbs in the electorate of Cowan are relatively recent in their establishment. These new areas were for many years market gardens or vineyards. Over recent history, the market gardens and vineyards have gradually been sold off to developers that have subdivided and sold blocks to my constituents. Originally settled by Italians in the main, a hallmark of the newer suburbs of Landsdale, Darch, Madeley, Ashby and others are therefore street after street of new houses, punctuated with an older brick-and-tile house that still belongs to the families of the original settlers. As I said, their names are mainly of Italian heritage. I expect that those landowners that still remain will sell in the next 10 years and new houses will infill throughout these suburbs. Blocks in these suburbs are selling for in excess of $350,000 for anywhere from 400 to 600 square metres. You could not now expect to buy a house in Darch for less than S550,000. The land therefore is very valuable.

Last year I met Maria Filippone and her mother, Caterina, who live in Darch. An old vineyard still stands next to their house, a testament to the heritage of this area. At the time I had a conversation with Maria and her mother and they told me of Maria's father and his service in World War II and as a prisoner of war. Such is the history of the district I represent. Maria and Caterina came to see me last week. They have been by themselves for some years now. Maria's father is gone; her brother is somewhat estranged from her and her mother. Caterina is of advanced years. Maria is mature herself and has suffered from an accident she had when she was 10 years old, somewhat reducing her capacity to make the best decisions for herself and her mother.

Maria and Caterina are therefore ladies who are vulnerable to charlatans and those who look to take advantage of them. Unfortunately this was the case early in 2005 when, at a church, Maria met and was then befriended by a developer, Vince Lombardo, later also meeting his son Michael. Maria told me that over time she was persuaded by the Lombardos that she had to sell her share of an 18,000 square metre block of land next to the house. She was told that if she did not she would lose it anyway. Feeling she had no choice, she sold her holding and her brother apparently sold his part as well. She told me that she received just $25 a square metre and her brother got $49 a square metre. I have since verified that the average price for the sale of land in that area on 18 February 2005 was $35 a square metre. A real estate agent that I asked about these circumstances told me that, instead of the block being worth the $650,000 that was paid for it at the time, it was more likely to have been worth $4 million or between $200 and $230 a square metre.

It certainly appears that Maria was ripped off. I only wish that I had heard of this matter at the time, not six years later. A court case with legal aid lawyers has since failed. It demonstrates that there are unscrupulous developers out there, developers that will take advantage of others when they see vulnerability to assist them in their duplicity. I can assure the Lombardos I will be looking very closely at the options from here. Ethical and honourable behaviour has clearly been absent and there is more to come on this matter.