Edward Mandla
COUNCIL SPEECHES
Ultimo Public School Backflip

Published On: 29/06/2015

This is a complicated area and we all just don't have all the facts. There are more questions than answers and like everyone, I'm disappointed but not to a level of condemning. This type of hostile Lord Mayoral Minute will serve no purpose. It is unhelpful and shows the City of Sydney has failed to develop any sort of working relationship with the Minister of Education.

I'll never understand why the City was so stubborn in selling the site in the first place. It took my amendment to make it happen.

The oldest rule in real estate is “buyer beware”. Everyone knows there are problems with their property and vendors are keen to exchange contracts. On the other hand buyers delay contract exchange to give them more time to do due diligence. I don't know why contracts weren't exchanged. We have your side of the story that the CEO sent emails and follow-ups but to no answer. I get my emails and phone calls answered and if I don’t I go higher. Again, it shows there is no working relationship between the City of Sydney and the Education Minister. Still it’s a mystery that I would like to get to the bottom to.

I was told that the State Government "drilled deeper" and found that instead of the "advertised $25M of contamination" there was $50M. I'm now not sure whether "drilled deeper" is real or figurative.

I understand there is a consultant’s report, which I haven’t seen. There is a legitimate question of the Minister as to why it took so long for the report to be released? I know from City of Sydney reports that unless you have 2-3 reports you don't have enough information to really make a proper decision. One way or another, I’m not going to get into an argument about whether contaminated material should remain on site. Children deserve to be on a site, which is 100% contamination free.

I was also told that the Minister's office took the position that an additional $25M to full clean up the contamination builds a lot of classrooms somewhere else.

I would also add our divisive approach to dealing with the State Government probably doesn’t help.

It does bring into question the real value of the City's $5.5B property portfolio. Certainly this property did not have an additional $25M of maintenance taken up in the books. A lot of the City's properties aren't in the best of shape. It's possible that if the city properly rectified all its properties it may not be as rich as it thinks. It’s going to have to write down the value of this site. Should the City drop the price by another $25M? Would the government buy it?

As I said, more questions than answers. Surely Lord Mayor you should just go and sit down with the Minister and figure it all out – or do I have to do that?

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