Leppington Triangle scandal: taxpayers stump up $30m for land worth $3m

2018 ongoing

Criminal investigations launched; the auditor general reportedly misled by the Infrastructure Department; departmental staff had numerous conflicts of interest.

Taxpayers spent $30 million in 2018 on land valued at just $3 million for the new Western Sydney airport. The land, known as the Leppington Triangle, is reportedly not needed for a second runway until after 2050.

The controversial deal is now the subject of a criminal investigation after the auditor general found that the department did not exercise appropriate due diligence in the purchase.

In the days after the auditor general’s report was released publicly, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack argued that the acquisition of the land was good value and would in time seem a bargain.

Six staff working in the Infrastructure Department’s Western Sydney Unit responsible for the deal had declared conflicts of interest. One had declared a conflict with the seller of the land, Leppington Pastoral Company, but was allowed to continue working on a key project related to the land acquisition.

According to Guardian Australia, the government is refusing to release details of the staff who had declared conflicts. The ABC has also reported that two staff in the Western Sydney Unit are under investigation.

The Financial Review has reported that the Infrastructure Department may also have misled the Auditor-General about consulting Finance Department officials over the valuation strategy for the land.

The land was owned by the Perich family, whose company donated $58,800 to the Liberals in 2018-19.

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