Liberals and Greens call on government to explain Dickson land-swap with construction union
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Liberals and Greens call on government to explain Dickson land-swap with construction union

Liberal Leader Alistair Coe has called on the government to explain a land swap in Dickson with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union's Tradesmen's Union Club.

Mr Coe has support from the Greens, so it seems likely the government will have to release a swathe of documents on the deal.

Land owned by Tradies in Dickson shops including the carpark the club bought from the government, at left, and the two blocks behind the pool which the government bought from the Tradies, including the CFMEU headquarters.

Land owned by Tradies in Dickson shops including the carpark the club bought from the government, at left, and the two blocks behind the pool which the government bought from the Tradies, including the CFMEU headquarters.

At the end of 2014, the government paid the Tradies $3.9 million for its block off Antill Street, which had an unimproved value of $283,000. The CFMEU is still headquartered at the site, with a rent-free deal for 42 months.

The Tradies has agreed in return to pay $3.2 million for the Dickson carpark outside the club in the Dickson centre. That deal was done in 2014 but the money is yet to be paid. It will be paid when the land is transferred at a date yet to be determined.

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Liberal Leader Alistair Coe: Called on teh government to table documents on its land swap with the union-run Tradies clubs.

Liberal Leader Alistair Coe: Called on teh government to table documents on its land swap with the union-run Tradies clubs.Credit:Karleen Minney

Mr Coe called on the government on Wednesday to table the lease issued to the Tradies for the Antill block. He also asked for an explanation of why the government had bought the block behind the pool and what it would use the land for. He asked who had authorised the purchase and when the Land Development Agency board, Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Cabinet had been advised.

On the carpark, Mr Coe asked the government to table the sales contract with the Tradies, and details of when and where it would be developed, and who authorised the sale.

For both blocks, he said the valuations should be tabled.

The land deal was brokered by CFMEU boss and Tradies chairman Dean Hall, who described it last year as an outstanding deal for the government.

Mr Hall released valuations, showing the Antill block was valued by Colliers at $3.25 million with 18 months' rent free for the union, or $3.55 million with vacant possession.

The Tradies' carpark was valued by MMJ at $3.18 million based on building a six-storey building.

Greens parliamentarian Caroline Le Couteur said the community was concerned about what the government planned for Section 72, the land behind the pool and near the Majura sports ground which includes the CFMEU headquarters, and includes the former Downer Club and a Salvation Army block.

She said the government should also provide detail on its purchase of the old Downer Club from the Tradies. The government paid $49,500, after a valuation from Colliers of $45,000. The site had an unimproved value of $725,000.

Ms Le Couteur asked for all of the valuations for the former club site, who authorised the purchase, and when the agency board and Cabinet had been told.

And she said the government should explain why the Salvation Army land had not yet been bought.

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"Given the recent auditor-general's 2016 report into certain land acquisitions made by the Land Development Agency, full transparency regarding government land deals will help restore public confidence in the LDA's land acquisition process," she said.

The local community deserved to know what was planned for the land, she said.

Kirsten Lawson is news director at The Canberra Times

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