Trea­sury trans­parency call

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - JESSICA HOWARD Ur­ban Af­fairs Re­porter [email protected]

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.”

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