Premier spends $6.3m on Chinese takeaway

THE Barnett government’s decision to remove the Grand Palace restaurant from the Perth Esplanade has cost WA taxpayers $6.3 million—so far.

Figures obtained by the WA Labor opposition last week revealed the WA planning commission handed a $5m initial payment to the restaurant lessee in February 2012.

A final settlement figure for buying out the 33-year-lease (including renewals) between Wang Nominees and Perth city council is still being negotiated.

The heritage-listed Florence Hummerston building was dismantled last year—at a cost of $1.3m—and put in storage to make way for the Elizabeth Quay redevelopment.

Despite several requests from the Voice last year, WA planning minister John Day waited till after the March 9 state election to disclose the $5m payment.

Media nanny David Whitely said the negotiations were confidential: “As this information pertains to commercial discussions with a private company, the decision was taken not to air details or provide a running commentary in the media in the past.

Shadow heritage minister Margaret Quirk says the escalating costs of the waterfront development should have been made public earlier.

“This is a taxpayer-funded development and the government should have been more transparent with the costs before the election,” she said.

“With a 33-year lease, the final cost could be very significant and way above the current $6.3m. In comparison, the heritage budget for the whole state is only around $2m.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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