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From servant to salesman, the CEO happy to sell our land and hand back the cheque

The April edition of City of Greater Bendigo’s glossy PR publication GB has council CEO Craig Niemann saying it’s okay to sell prime CBD property and then hand the cheque straight back to the State Government.

This means Bendigo residents lose an asset and “pay for the privilege” of becoming a branch office of the State Government in the GovHub that will suck jobs out of Epsom and other suburbs and leave Bendigo $1 billion worse off than Ballarat over the next 10 years. In Ballarat, the State Government is footing the entire bill for that city’s GovHub.

The admission that Bendigo, after contributing the proceeds of the sale of our land will invest up to $7.285 million to dud GovHub is scary stuff.

The CEO’s column in GB this month is a bit selective for information – no surprises there as both council and residents have been drip-fed limited information to make a future-impacting decision on losing our independence to Melbourne under the dud deal.

He says the current Lyttleton Terrace building “was built only for City of Bendigo staff” but fails to mention that civic leaders of the early 1970s had real foresight, constructing offices that could rise in height by another two storeys to accommodate future growth and service delivery for residents and ratepayers. He also hides fact that in 2000 the then bureaucracy put a plan to council to add two storeys – council made the decision that it had higher priorities at that time.

And he says he applauds “council’s bold decision to give this project the green light”. Come on! It’s not some sideshow at the Bendigo Easter Fair! And besides, two councillors voted against what some perceive as a pre-determined imposed decision to be the government’s tenant while another councillor wanted more information and abstained from the vote.

If councillors cannot accept the absence of detail, neither can the residents of Bendigo.

Reading the CEO’s column, one could be excused for thinking it’s more a salesman’s pitch than a report from the city’s servant.

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