Given the recent revelations concerning the Government's responses to the Russell Review of the compulsory acquisition process, it now is clear that the Premier failed to act on two key reports which were highly critical of the government’s compulsory acquisition process and functioning of the Valuer General's office.
The first dates back to May 2013 when the Report of the Joint Standing Committee on the Office of the Valuer General, chaired by Liberal MP Matt Kean was released. This committee made 29 recommendations which included a number criticizing the fairness and openness of the land acquisition process and the functions of the Valuer General’s office, but the government did nothing to make the process fairer.
Mike Baird was Treasurer at this time when the Liberals embarked on hundreds of acquisitions for infrastructure projects including Westconnex, NorthConnex, Sydney Metro and the Sydney light rail, knowing the process regarding property valuations by the Valuer General was not transparent and was unfair in a number of ways.
Then in February 2014, the government received the Review from David Russell, SC, which was commissioned in 2012 and included guiding principles on how compulsory acquisitions should be dealt with by government.
Now we've seen documents showing that Premier Baird was advised by his Minister of Finance, Dominic Perrottet, to sit on key recommendations of this Review because implementing a fairer system would 'cost money' and 'slow down infrastructure projects' and so only two recommendations were acted on while the more significant improvements to the process were ignored.
The Premier must now take full responsibility for knowingly allowing a process to proceed whereby hundreds of residents across Sydney were disadvantaged in the process and application of the NSW Government's compulsory acquisition process.
His comments expressing concern for the way the WestConnex acquisitions have been handled are completely disingenuous knowing what we now know.
We believe there must be full recourse for residents who have been put through this rotten process. They deserve much more than fake concern from the Premier.
These revelations add to the growing list of unacceptable governance issues and practices around this project and point to the need for an immediate inquiry into WestConnex.