Why was Minister devious?
In your edition of January 10, it was reported that the Minister for Planning had approved the seven storey high apartment block at Ettalong proposed by Tesrol.
This would be more than twice the number of storeys recommended by the Peninsula Urban Directions Strategy for development along The Esplanade at Ettalong.
I immediately checked the Department of Planning website for information about the Minister's approval.
The Department is required under its Act to place the Department's report and the Minister's approval on the website within 14 days of the approval being given.
There was no new information about the proposal on the website and it had not been updated since September 2010.
After two phone calls to the Department and two e-mails, the required information was uploaded to the website on the evening of January 11.
This revealed that the Minister had approved the development on November 24.
So it took the Minister's office at least a month to advise the local media of the Minister's approval of this gross overdevelopment and it took the Department 48 days to place the required information on its website.
Why were the Minister and the Department being so devious about releasing this information and why had they approved a development that is contrary to the recommendations of a strategy that was funded by the Department?
In their development application in April 2009, Tesrol signed a declaration that they had not made any political donations in the two years prior to lodging the application.
Although this may be true, the Electoral Funding Authority website shows that Tesrol made four donations totalling $38,000 to the NSW ALP between 2004 and March 2007.
It appears that Tesrol have found a neat loophole in the NSW Government's laws on political donations.
If Tesrol had lodged their development application one month earlier, they would have had to declare the 2007 donation and the Minister would not have been able to consider their application.
Instead the application would have been referred to the Planning Assessment Commission for its independent determination.
It is no wonder that the Minister and the Department were trying to minimise the publicity about their approval for this very questionable development.
Incidentally, while searching the records of Tesrol's donations on the Electoral Funding Authority website, I discovered that Tesrol had also made a significant donation to Debra Wales' election campaign in March 2007.
Perhaps Matthew Wales should declare this pecuniary interest in Tesrol's affairs when he makes public statements in support of Tesrol's proposed development.