The Nationals appear to be divided about the merits of the New South Wales Government chipping in $20 million for a makeover of the Sydney Fish Markets.
The Government and the market’s owners announced yesterday they were going halves in a $40 million facelift that would include a new waterfront park and boardwalk, a multi-storey car park, and a third more retail and wholesale space.
The redevelopment is less ambitious than an $80 million plan put forward in 2005 that included a high-rise commercial building and more parking.
The owners had long been seeking funding for a redevelopment but the ABC has been told past applications were rebuffed because the State Government said they had enough money.
Nationals MP Duncan Gay yesterday said the upgrade was long overdue and questioned whether the Government’s contribution would be enough.
But this morning, Nationals leader Andrew Stoner told ABC 702 Sydney it may not be a good deal.
“It’s long overdue that something happened but the question is, is a $20 million taxpayer investment into a highly profitable business actually a good deal for those taxpayers?” he said.
“We don’t know because once again, this NSW Labor Government has been less than forthcoming in terms of their research, in terms of whether any due diligence has been done.”
Mr Stoner said taxpayers should expect a return on their investment.
“I think it’s probably debatable that there would be benefits to the state economy and therefore to taxpayers,” he said.
“There would probably also be benefits in terms of public access to that part of the harbour but will there be a good return for a $20 million investment?
“That question is unlikely to be answered because of the politics. We’ve got a Government in its dying days desperate to be seen to be actually doing something after 15 years of inertia.”
Last financial year, the market pulled in about $1 billion in turnover and made a profit of close to $120 million.
The redevelopment is due to be complete in 2012.