Treasury transparency call
A NEW community group has called for Treasurer Peter Gutwein to be more open about the process that will decide the future of Hobart’s Treasury buildings. Convener of the Friends of the Treasury Buildings group Chris Merridew, right, said the process of filtering out registrations of interest to nine possibilities had been “unusual” and the group was worried great ideas were being “ruled out behind closed doors”.
THE process to consider the future of Hobart’s historic Treasury buildings needs to be more transparent and allow for more public input, says a newly formed community group.
The Friends of the Treasury Buildings group called on Treasurer Peter Gutwein to provide more information about the offers that had been received for the possible sale or lease of the buildings via a registration of interest process.
Mr Gutwein said this week there had been nine “significant” registrations of interest in the Treasury buildings.
He announced in August the ROI process was the first step in a three-stage process to determine the best use of the buildings.
He said the next step was a full expressions of interest process that would be done in the new year.
Friends of the Treasury convener Chris Merridew said the ROI process had been “unusual”.
“It gave no opportunity even to inspect the subject buildings, but just to put your organisation forward to enable it to submit an expression of interest when called in 2020,” he said.
Information handed out at a recent open day at the buildings from Price Waterhouse Coopers, which was in charge of the divestment process, said the company had received 107 registrations of interest during the process. Mr Merridew, a previous councillor with the National Trust, said how the shortlist of nine had come from those 107 remained a mystery.
“We remain very unclear about the filtering process and we are concerned that great ideas and interesting options for these public buildings may be being ruled out behind closed doors,” he said.
“What worries us most is that we are going to wake up one day and the government will have selected a future for the buildings and the community have had very little input.”
Friends of the Treasury member and Hobart Mayor Anna Reynolds said the community had said on many occasions how important the buildings were for Hobart.
“Their future use is so important to our heritage heart and so we all deserve much more information on proposals that have come forward and who is behind them,” she said.
In response to the group’s concerns, Mr Gutwein said there had not been 107 registrations of interest, but 11.
“No proposals have been submitted for the site, this will occur during the next EOI phase,” he said. “After this first stage, there are nine respondents who have been assessed as highly experienced and who have demonstrated capacity in delivering innovative solutions for properties such as the Treasury out of a total of 11 registrations.
“As a result of community feedback so far, the project objectives have been revised, and the public will continue to have opportunities to provide input, with consultation continuing through the expression of interest and request for tender phases.”