The Bungonia community is up in arms about Multiquip Quarries’ plans for a sand and basalt quarry on a three hectare division of land. Under its 2009 state government approval, Multiquip was required to build a bypass around the village to mitigate the impact of trucks. A portion of travelling stock reserve (TSR) was integral to this, along with several private property purchases.
Progress Association president Bill Dobbie has charged that the stock reserve did not go to tender and politicians have not responded to residents’ attempts to uncover the reason. Dobbie has been opposing Multiquip?s operations for sometime. In April he accused the company of changing agreements with respect to road building in the area.
However, state departments and the MP for Goulburn Pru Goward have hit back, saying a portion of travelling stock reserve could be sold without going to tender. A Department of Primary Industries spokesman confirmed the portion did not go to tender.
?It was sold to provide access consistent with departmental procedures,? he said. ?The land was sold through private treaty sale under provision 34 of the Crown Lands Act 1989. At the time of sale, there was no other known interest in regards to this parcel of land.
?Prior to the land being sold, the reservations for camping and travelling stock was revoked through section 90 (2) of the Crown Lands Act 1989 and the remaining 8.8 hectares was added to the Bungonia Park Trust.?
The spokesman said the portion had not been used by stock for many years and was not required for this purpose.
The department would not reveal the price, stating that as it was sold by private treaty the amount was not disclosed. A valuation was undertaken beforehand.
Asked whether the department believed it was a ?fair deal,? the spokesman said ?yes.?
?Bargain basement? deal
Residents, on the other hand, believe Multiquip Quarries paid $8000, which they described as a ?bargain basement? deal.
In response to inquiries from The Goulburn Post, Multiquip Quarries managing director Steve Mikosic declined to reveal the price. ?We held a long lease over the lands, we asked if we could purchase some, the government approved, it was subdivided and we paid for it,? he said.
The negotiations took place in April 2011. A notice of intention to dispose of the land was advertised in The Goulburn Post on 1 August, 2011 and The Government Gazette on 23 September, 2011. The sale was settled on 3 November that year for the 2.94ha, the department confirmed.
Contrary to statements that there was no other interest in the land, Dobbie told The Goulburn Post he wrote to the Primary Industries Minister in April 2011, asking to purchase the portion. He said he did not receive a reply.
Likewise, he also sought answers over the Lands Department’s negotiations with Multiquip about the stock reserve. ?We (the Progress Association) wrote to Pru Goward [Goulburn MP] and Katrina Hodgkinson [current NSW Minister for Primary Industries] and got absolutely no reply,? he said.
?She’s (Ms Hodgkinson) had plenty of time to make changes to the type of thing that occurred under Labor but nothing has happened. I’d like to see the whole thing go to ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption].?
?Genuine and beneficial?
Hodgkinson’s office did not respond to questions about her alleged non-response. It referred questions about the sale process to NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, whose department oversees Crown Lands. His office repeated the Department of Primary Industries’ reply.
Goulburn MP Pru Goward did the same, but added: ?As the State Member for Goulburn, I have made numerous representations in both person and by letter to the responsible ministers for Crown lands on this issue … At all times, I endeavour to be fully responsive to all my constituents and the concerns they bring to me and my office.?
The DPI spokesman said the department was satisfied that Multiquip’s interest in the land was genuine and beneficial, that is, for an access road. ?The department received and responded to submissions from the community and is satisfied proper procedures were followed in the land sale,? he said.
Sources: The Goulburn Post, Multiquip Quarries