Secret letter from Walker to Rau to be released

State Ombudsman Wayne Lines has told the State Government to release a secret letter from property developer Walker Corp to Attorney-General John Rau regarding the controversial Festival Plaza development. 

The State Government had been fighting to keep the letter, which concerns the controversial Festival Plaza redevelopment, secret for almost a year.

Shadow Minster for Housing and Urban Development Vickie Chapman submitted a Freedom of Information application on 1 April 2015 for “all correspondence between the Office of Planning and Urban Development and Walker Corporation, including but not limited to representatives of that company acting as lobbyists, for the period 2010 to present”.

This request was rejected and ultimately referred to the Ombudsman for review in July last year.

The Deputy Ombudsman issued a provisional determination on 24 September 2015 and after further submission by lawyers for Walker Corp, the Ombudsman has told the Government to release the letter.

The determination also reveals that there was no current binding written agreement between Walker Corporation and the Government, despite numerous public statements by the Government that they had entered into an agreement with Walker to develop the Festival Plaza precinct.

“I will be extremely concerned if the Weatherill Labor Government elects to appeal this decision in the District Court of SA which will cast a further cloud over secrecy in this State,” said Ms Chapman.

“The Weatherill Labor Government made statements weeks before the last State election to develop a car park, and then within days of the election to fully develop the Festival Plaza Precinct, and now it is revealed there is no binding written agreement.

Ministers Koutsantonis and Rau danced around questions in Parliament about the commencement and terms of the development but failed to provide any answers.”