Leesha McKenny, Sydney Morning Herald Urban Affairs Reporter has done outstanding investigative work over the last four months. She has assiduously followed up the suspicions of Friends of Malabar Headland members and others in the community that the Liberal Government wanted to sell a large part of Malabar Headland for residential and commercial development.
Leesha’s first article (Appointment fuels development fears for the Malabar Headland – 3 October 2014) revealed that a “project development and environmental consultant”, Nation Partners, had been appointed to advise the Department of Finance on the headland’s strategic potential:
From statements Nation Partners published on their public website, it was apparent that their brief included assessment of the potential of the headland to be sold to property developers for residential and commercial development.
Leesha followed up on 6/12/2014 with a further article – Sporting shooters have new HQ in their sights, freeing up Malabar headland:
Since then, Leesha has used a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to obtain the report, preparation of which had passed from Nation Partners to a larger consultancy (Coffey). Coffey’s report states that the Commonwealth-owned land is “surplus to requirements” and would generate a “significant return” if sold:
There has been a strongly negative reaction to the conclusions of this report in Randwick City, throughout the densely populated Eastern Suburbs and elsewhere in Sydney. Greens, Labor and independent representatives at local, state and federal levels of government have all publicly articulated the community’s response. For example, the Acting Mayor of Randwick City today issued a strongly worded statement that expresses community sentiment on this issue:
Randwick City Council Mayoral Press Release 22 Jan 2015
In response, Liberal Government’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt has spoken to the media and stated that Malabar Headland “won’t be sold, it will be kept in public hands in perpetuity”. Video of and extracts from Greg Hunt’s statement are included in Leesha’s updated article – Malabar headland: Abbott government rules out landsale, also published today:
Superficially, one might conclude that the Liberal Government has mismanaged the planning for the future of Malabar Headland, allowing an expensive consultant’s report to be prepared that offers advice that is contrary to its own policies and is therefore worthless.
The reality is otherwise. The Environment Minister is aware of the environmental values of the headland and its importance to Randwick City, the Eastern Suburbs and Sydney. He knows that he has no choice but to advocate for its preservation as public open space.
However the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann (Western Australia) and his assistant, Parliamentary Secretary Michael McCormack (National Party, representing the Riverina electorate), who are far more influential in the Liberal Government than Greg Hunt, have ambitions to sell many Commonwealth assets to private commercial interests. There is no doubt that Malabar Headland has been on their list.
We believe it remains there, and urge the community to be vigilant, and express its wishes forthrightly if it is to save what Labor Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite has described as “the sacred green shoulder of Maroubra beach, the last remaining tract of native bushland between the harbour and Botany Bay”.
We are currently adding the documents released under FOI, other documents and information and some commentary to our Future of the headland page.