11 August 2005
Westfield today welcomed the finding by the ICAC that it had not acted corruptly in respect of the Orange Grove Road shopping centre.
However, the company said it was disappointed the ICAC public hearing did not deal with the first leg of the inquirys terms of reference. This would have allowed a more complete and transparent examination of the circumstances surrounding the original approval by Liverpool Council, which were the basis of the concerns Westfield made known to the Government.
The only criticism of Westfield in the ICAC report was that at a formal meeting with the then Premiers Chief of Staff Westfield raised concerns which, in the Commissions view, were not legitimate. Westfield does not agree with this view. As the Commission acknowledges, Westfield made it clear to the Premiers Chief of Staff that it had no hard evidence of the concerns to take to the ICAC.
The Commission also acknowledges all contact by Westfield with State Government officials was transparent. Westfield stands by its decision to raise its concerns with the Government.
The position now is:
- The NSW Court of Appeal has ruled that the development approval for the shopping centre was illegal.
- The Government has refused to overturn the Courts decision and re-zone the site.
- The ICAC has found that the State Government refusal to re-zone was reasonably based and not subject to corruption.
- Since the ICAC hearing, the Administrator of the Liverpool City Council has rejected a fresh application to use the site for shopping.