Speaking up ... nation listens
In Federal Parliament on Tuesday night, Senator Sarah Henderson, rose in the Senate to tell the nation what is happening in Bendigo on GovHub.
"In recent days I have also been very pleased to speak up as the patron senator for Bendigo on what appears to be another very shady Labor deal, this time between the City of Greater Bendigo and the state government, led all the way by Minister Jacinta Allan. The proposal to sell the council offices, situated on prime land in Bendigo's CBD, to make way for a $90 million GovHub to be built and owned by the Victorian government looks to be a very bad deal for the people of Bendigo. Ratepayers will be forced to lease back office space in the GovHub and after 40 years will be left with no asset at all. I have no issue at all with the construction of the GovHub, but Minister Allan needs to find another location. The people of Bendigo should not pay the price. It is no different from being asked to sell your home at a cut price, leasing it back at full commercial rent and then, when the lease expires, being left with no home at all.
This is not happening in Ballarat, where a GovHub is being constructed on a greenfield site at no cost to Ballarat ratepayers. I've called for the sale of Bendigo's council offices to be put on hold and for a full inquiry to be conducted. There must be complete transparency. PricewaterhouseCoopers assessed the options for council, but this report has never been released. That's because PwC recommended, I suspect, very strongly against this option. Mayor Margaret O'Rourke and her councillors need to understand that they serve the people of Bendigo and not the state government. This relationship with Jacinta Allan and state Labor looks, frankly, all too cosy. The councillors of the City of Greater Bendigo must safeguard ratepayer assets without fear or favour.
Unbelievably, council has done a deal without even receiving a valuation from the Valuer-General. Mayor O'Rourke told ABC Radio that council had done its due diligence, exploring seven options, but they have failed to release any of these details to the community. Many local residents ... are deeply concerned.
This is a so-called done deal, but there are no details about the costs to ratepayers, the sale price, the lease costs, the windfall return we expect to the Victorian government or what will happen when the lease expires. This appears to be a very shabby, underhanded deal, and the people of Bendigo deserve full transparency and the complete truth."
Stand by for more on breaking news here at www.bendigogovhub.com.au
And make your concerns known to the Bendigo Advertiser, council and members of Parliament.