The Glebe Society understands that the Elias Group which runs All Occasion Cruises out of B1, B2 wharves adjoining the Fish Markets in Blackwattle Bay put in an amended DA proposal in relation to proposed developments at this site May 2013. We have not seen the DA so do not know what it proposes.
The community has had a very strong interest in this long overdue DA. It has been awaited since the controversial awarding in August 2009 of preferred tenderer status to a $2 company run by Joe Elias for a multimillion-dollar maritime development at B1, B2 (SMH 7/1/13).
The decision to give the Elias Group preferred tender status was initially controversial because the Government had only one week previously established the highly publicised Bays Precinct Community Reference Group (BPCRG) to develop a strategic plan for the Bays Precinct and because of the key players in the bid.
The decision was seen by participating Councils and community representatives as undermining the BPCRG process and almost led to a total walkout by all community representatives. (This was a heated
issue at the BPCRG meeting of August 2009.) It was rumoured at the time that the Planning Minister was not aware of this decision – which was made within the portfolio of the Waterways Minister Joe Triipodi – until it was reported in the press. Eddie Obeid Jnr was reported to be an advisor to the project. Subsequently, when investigating the collapse of the Elias Group development plans for B1, B2 in 2011, the SMH uncovered probity audit concerns about the original tendering process:
- The tender panel was made up mainly of people outside government, ‘contrary to the description of the process set out’. There was no representative of either Treasury or the Premier’s Department;
- Despite the panel recommending a two-stage process, Maritime’s chief executive, Steve Dunn, dismissed all other bidders after the first stage and declared All Occasion Cruises the winner; and
- The financial capacity report on the bidders, compiled by Peter Marshall, another external consultant, could not be found on the file.
(SMH 20 June 2011; the probity audit did however clear the transaction while noting these concerns.)
Earlier this year, the Glebe Society was informed that the Elias Group had joined with FishBank in the broader development proposal now known as Destination Blackwattle Bay. But later, we heard that they had separately submitted their own DA. Given the more recent information about the status of FishBank/Destination Blackwattle Bay – we are now uncertain about the status of this DA.
Our priority is to urge the Government and relevant agency (Roads and Maritime Services) to exhibit the Elias Group B1/B2 DA for public comment.