Federal police investigate $30 million government purchase of Western Sydney Airport land

By Matthew Elmas

Friday October 16, 2020

federal police
(Image: ANAO)

Federal police are investigating whether any criminal offenses were committed in the controversial Leppington Triangle land purchase, after a scathing audit office report argued government officials paid 10-times too much for the property.

In a statement sent to The Mandarin, a spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed an investigation was taking place, but said it was “too early to speculate on potential outcomes”.

“The AFP can confirm it is conducting an investigation to identify potential criminal offences relating to issues identified in an ANAO report into the sale of land to the Commonwealth at Badgerys Creek,” the spokesperson said.

An Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report published last month found the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications overpaid almost $27 million for a 12-hectare slice of land adjacent to the planned Western Sydney Airport at Badreys Creek.

The taxpayer was charged $30 million for the land, but auditors found it was actually worth just $3.065 million.

Auditors criticised the department for failing to properly brief decision makers on the project, saying staff had “omitted relevant information” that subsequently led to the property’s value being inflated.

“Incomplete advice provided to decision makers, and the inadequate response by the department when questions were raised by the ANAO, was inconsistent with effective and ethical stewardship of public resources,” the report said.

The land was purchased from the Leppington Pastoral Company, which has previously donated to the Liberal Party and is owned by billionaire brothers Tony and Ron Perich,

Federal communications Minister Paul Fletcher, who was urban infrastructure Minister at the time of the purchase in 2018, said earlier this month he was unaware of the over-payment until the ANAO report was published.

“The Auditor-General report said information was concealed from senior officials at the department, as well as the minister,” he said.

More to come…

READ MORE: ‘Unreliable’ due diligence, self-regulation at heart of Infrastructure Department’s ‘Leppington Triangle’ scandal

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