Tuesday, 6 October 2020
Questions without Notice
Western Sydney Airport
My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. According to the Auditor-General, this government paid $30 million for the Leppington Triangle—which was valued at $3 million—paid 22 times the per-hectare price paid by the New South Wales government, leased the land back on a value of less than $1 million and committed to building the sellers a $10 million underpass. Does the minister stand by his claim that taxpayers got a bargain?
I certainly listened to the question, over the interjections of those behind the member for Ballarat. The question went to one Auditor-General's report. The Deputy Prime Minister needs to make sure his answer is relevant to the question that has been asked. The Leader of the House is seeking the call?
I've probably been called worse. The government and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications are taking this matter very seriously.
Ms Catherine King interjecting—
You wanted to hear my answer, so why don't you quieten down and I'll give it to you. The department agrees with the recommendations and has released a public statement. It did that on 22 September. The department is extremely concerned by the findings of the report and is taking actions to address any shortcomings in the processes and decision-making arrangements identified in relation to the Leppington Triangle acquisition. The department has agreed with all of the recommendations—seriously?
The department has agreed, as I say, with all the recommendations made by the ANAO, and it's already taking comprehensive action to address the relevant matters relating to the purchase. The department's actions include undertaking an independent review of the transaction, by an independent auditor. This is what is happening to ensure that any further issues are identified and addressed—instigating an investigation of matters of the staff conduct identified by the ANAO, using an independent investigator.
Could the Deputy Prime Minister pause for just a moment. The member for Ballarat did approach to make a point of order and is now trying to interject the point of order about what she says she did and didn't ask. I'm just going to make the point again: before getting to a question, she made five statements about the project concerned, so the Deputy Prime Minister is completely in order in referring to those. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The secretary of the department is also, in addition to other measures, putting in place protocols to ensure that any future property acquisitions or disposals are agreed by the department's operations committee prior to the exercise of delegations. It's putting in place a protocol, for the treatment of future ANAO recommendations, to internally review issues. This will require independence of the reviewers, such as from outside the affected work area; agreement to the review approach by the department's operations committee; and consideration of the outcomes by the secretary. As this work is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment at this time.