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SSC Newspaper : February 2013
february 2013 news 8 Strathfield Scene agent labelled a liar By Joanne Tran It was standing room only when the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigation of former Labor minister Eddie Obeid dealt with the Obeid’s Strathfield connection last month. Prominent local real estate agent Joseph Georges took to the witness stand to be questioned about his alleged links to Obeid, his family and associates. It was not a performance Georges would have relished. When Counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson SC, asked him about his relationship with the Obeids, his confusion over simple questions drew ill-disguised laughter from the gallery. Counsel asked: “Do you have any business interests with the Obeid family?” Georges responded with a curt “No.” It was a denial that didn’t last long. Georges admitted he and the Obeids both owned shares in Mincorp Pty Ltd, a mining company with an interest in the Yarrawa, that was awarded a potentially lucrative coal exploration licence under the former Labor Government. The inquiry is investigating whether Labor minister Ian Macdonald rigged the tender process for mining in the area, which might have benefitted the Obeids to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. “Remember when I asked you a question about whether or not you shared any business interests with the Obeid family?” counsel asked Georges. “It was a lie?” “ Yes,” Georges admitted, claiming he was “confused” by the question. The well known real estate agent’s relationship with the Obeid family dates back to the 1980s. He said they lost contact for 10 or 15 years, but rekindled their friendship after a business trip to Dubai in 2006. The proceedings revealed links and transactions involving close to $450,000. Georges admitted to loaning that amount to Gardner Brook, a man he couldn’t be sure existed, through Andrew Kaidbay, the Obeids’ financer “I did it as an act of good faith, that’s what friends do,” he said. When the commission revealed it was the Obeids’ who paid him the $234,800 back, he conceded he knew they were behind the transactions he made with Kaidbay. “ You are depositing sums in excess of $400,000 in relation to the undocumented loan, interest free, given in respect of a company whose business you do not know, in respect of a venture you cannot describe, involving a man, Gardner Brook, who you do not even know ... exists,” Watson said. Then there was a marina in Elizabeth Bay, one of the Eastern suburbs’ most expensive areas. Georges denied the Obeids were involved. But he revealed that Moses, Eddie Obeid’s son, had a key to the Marina’s office. In fact, Moses Obeid occasionally sat behind the desk in the office while Georges was working in Strathfield. It has been reported there was pressure to remove it from the City of Sydney planning process, which may have opened the way for development. Today, it is a popular coffee bar with a few boats tethered to their moorings. • Environment Minister Tony Burke has denied any wrong-doing in relation to staying at Eddie Obeid’s Perisher ski lodge, telling the ABC’s AM radio program he’d stayed at the lodge twice, but nothing had been expected of him in return. Ididitin an act as good faith. That’s what friends do A project that includes two buildings nearly three times taller than permitted under Strathfield Councils’ planning regulations is almost at the end of the planning process. Columbia Lane is regarded as a test case for development along Parramatta Road. The result of the consultation process will be watched closely by developers and councils. A development application for the $320 million project was lodged with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure more than a year ago, and went on public exhibition last January. Developer Colston Budd Hunt and Kafes Pty Ltd wants to construct five buildings, including one of 21-storeys, for mixed use, including about 650 residential units. Strathfield Council’s draft Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2011 allows for buildings up to 22m high in that location. An average 21 storey building is about 60m high. Sam Kennard, director of Kennards Self Storage, which owns part of the site, believes the development would “provide better amenity and a higher level of living than those that comply with council code”. “They are smaller, taller buildings with more open space between them,” he said. “Reactions from locals haven’t been hostile at all. We’ve informed them about it in a public exhibition, we letterbox dropped and had a website running and we got only eight submissions with most of them from statutor y bodies,” he said. ARnOTTs sITe $400,000 in grants now stagnating Strathfield Council has received a State Government grant worth more than $200,000 to build multi-use hard courts at a contaminated site off Parramatta Road. But this grant joins others that can’t be used until the State Government clears the land of dangerous chemicals. This brings the total of stagnant grants for the former Arnotts site to more than $400,000. Council has been waiting for more than nine years for the site to be cleaned up so it can transform it into an open recreational space. PRe-seLeCTIOn Delezio runs for Watson Father of the year and charity head Ron Delezio has been pre-selected by the Liberal Party to run against the sitting member Environment Minister Tony Burke for the federal seat of Watson. “I’ve got that experience now and I learned a lot from that 2010 campaign. The feedback I’ve got is that they want me to have another go,” Delezio told the Canterbury Bankstown Express. DeveLOPmenT quALITy Lowdown on High rises Strathfield planners are examining initiatives to ensure high-rise developments are of high quality. Mayor Gulian Vaccari told the Scene guidelines are being considered to make it clear to developers that Strathfield will only approve construction if the development conformed to its style. The move comes after a number of developments were rejected last year. AnnOunCemenT sOOn Residents keen to join committees Resident representatives on new council committees are expected to be announced soon. Mayor Gulian Vaccari said there has been considerable interest in ser ving on the new committees for community development, safety, civic events and business. “ We’re identifying talent for the committees and they will meet in the first quarter of the year,” he said. In Brief verdict soon on $320 million high-rise Former Strathfield Councillor Danny Lim has filed an application for an Apprehended Violence Order against prominent Strathfield real estate agent Joseph Georges. He claimed to a magistrate today the agent “harassed” him. The court did not hear details of how the alleged harassment occurred, and Mr Georges was not present to answer the allegations. It was not clear if he even knew the hearing was taking place. But Lim claimed: “I fear for my life and my pet dog Smarty’s life. ” He told presiding magistrate Margaret Quinn at Burwood Local Court: “They’re looking for people to shoot me and my dog. ” Lim continued: “He told me he has hunting rifles and his dad has hunting rifles.” Quinn agreed to an interim order until February 22 after being told that Georges was not present. Georges may not have been served any notice to attend and might not even be aware of the application, the court heard. “ If he doesn’t know about it, he can’t breach it,” Quinn told Lim. “ P lease don’t think I’m ignoring you, but he has to be served. He’s entitled to that.” The court asked local police to serve the application on Georges. Lim is applying for the AVO following an alleged assault on January 18. LIM seeks avo after aLLeged harassMent Danny Lim outside Burwood Court .
December 2012 SS