More reasons why NSW is failing
The Daily Telegraph
March 05, 2010

Reason #2:
By John Rolfe

KRISTINA Keneally needlessly bought a city office building using nearly $25 million of your money, then spent even more taxpayer dollars turning it into a white elephant.

For any voter considering giving the Government yet another chance after the ascension of its latest Premier, the tale of 30 Clarence St is reason to think again.

This drab 11-storey tower was bought to make way for the Sydney Metro. But the sale came well after it was clear the project was doomed.

An investigation by The Daily Telegraph has revealed the transfer occurred on January 21, even though the sale document was marked "DO NOT DATE".

Well-founded speculation about the Metro's axing emerged on December 6 in the aftermath of Mrs Keneally's elevation.

It can also be revealed the Department of Transport and Infrastructure was still offering tenants six-figure sums to vacate - according to emails seen by The Daily Telegraph - right up until Mrs Keneally finally confirmed the project was off the rails on February 21.

Well before this date it would have been widely known within Government that acquired buildings, such as 30 Clarence St, would need to remain occupied if they were not to become an even greater drain on the public purse. However, heaping incompetence on incompetence, the Government kept on doling out cheques with the direct effect of reducing its own rental revenues.

One tenant told 2GB's Ray Hadley program of receiving nearly $300,000; another told The Daily Telegraph of being paid close to $200,000. A third is believed to have retired on the Government's largesse.

A fourth tenant, who is about to receive nearly $20,000 compensation, said: "This Government couldn't run a bath." Another, who is leaving, said: "It was a good deal for us, but as a taxpayer I'm appalled. If I ran my business the way they do I'd be sacked."

Using your money, the state now has in its possession a half-empty, 25-year-old lemon.

A sixth tenant, who remains in the building, said: "We don't know what's going on. In the meantime we are paying premium rent for a building that isn't being cleaned properly."

The Daily Telegraph asked the Government what its plans for 30 Clarence St were.

"It is expected the Government will retain ownership of 30 Clarence St, with the building to be leased at market rates," a spokesman said. The Government would not comment on the rental income it receives for its $24.495 million.

The known wastage on the Metro is now $330 million. Expect this figure to rise.

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