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Premier defends Gillman involvement

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Premier Jay Weatherill says it’s “absolutely appropriate” for him to have dealt personally with the developer involved in a controversial land deal at Gillman.

InDaily revealed yesterday the developer, Adelaide Capital Partners, had approached the Premier personally last year about its plan to buy 400 hectares of government land at Gillman.

The sale did not go to tender. Shortly after the sale was made almost half of Renewal SA’s board resigned over concerns about the deal, InDaily understands.

Asked yesterday about his decision to meet the developer, Weatherill said the meeting was appropriate.

“When the head of the [Economic Development Board] brings a proposition to me which is squarely within the strategic objectives of my Government which is to grow the mining services sector and wants me to support that project and understand it, it’s entirely appropriate for me to meet,” he said.

“I’m the Minister for State Development. There could be no more important issue than accelerating the rate of economic activity in our State.

“I make no bones about the fact that some MFP land that had been laying dormant for 30 odd years,  when someone comes to us and says we need a period of exclusivity so that we can spend serious money in proving up this project, I’m going to say ‘yes’ to that.

“Companies are not going to put on the line millions and millions of dollars to carry out strategic investigations so that they can invest serious money unless they have a period of exclusivity, and I’m more than happy to provide that. There have not been any offers for this land of any substance for the last 30 years. We asked Renewal SA to tell us whether it was a good price – it was.”

Asked at the press conference whether a competitive tender process might have driven away ACP, the Premier said he’d been told that was the case.

“That’s what they said, and we had no reason to not believe that, because they were going to have to spend significant millions of dollars to actually get to the first phase of being able to commit to this project, so they get a period of exclusivity while they carry out that, so they can go to their financers and make that commitment.”

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