NSW gov't forks over millions to developers — again

October 15, 2015
The Parramatta Justice Precinct was sold for $170 million, only to be leased back by the NSW government to use the courts.

The New South Wales state government is giving away huge amounts of taxpayers' money to big business through its wholesale sell-off of state-owned property. The losses include a higher rental bill for office space to house NSW public service departments.

Government Property NSW plans to sell $865 million worth of buildings in 2015-16. This is more than double the $346 million in state property sold last financial year.

Already, one building sold in 2013 has given the new owner a direct $15 million profit. Property group Cromwell paid $53 million for Bligh House, then sold it for $68 million in July this year.

Cromwell also bought seven government offices for $405 million in 2013, leasing six back to the government. The properties were valued at $535 million this year, an easy profit of $130 million for the developer.

The company is also gaining from the government lease-backs, worth a minimum of $405 million over 15 years.

Twenty out of 48 government buildings sold off have since been leased back to Government Property NSW.

The latest example is the Parramatta Justice Precinct, which was sold to Eureka Property for $170 million in 2013. The state government will be required to pay a minimum of $198 million in rent to the new owner over 15 years to continue to house the Department of Justice. This is a deficit of $28 million, plus the loss of public ownership of the asset.

NSW Labor's shadow treasurer Michael Daley accused the Baird government of being "fanatics when it comes to selling property.

"There is just no merit assessment. They have made an ideological decision; they just want to make a quick buck. What's the point of selling a building or making a quick buck, when you are adding to your recurrent costs?"

The point is to pursue the unrelenting aim of attacking the public sector, while providing multi-million dollar hand-outs to the private corporations. This is the reality of neoliberal capitalist governments whether Liberal or Labor.

Now, it appears that the Australian ruling class has decided to replace mere agents as government leaders with members of their own class: that's why we now have former merchant banker Mike Baird as premier of the largest state and former merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.

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