SAVE OUR HERITAGE
SECRETIVE SALE OF THE SYDNEY GPO
BY AHMED FAHOUR & AUSTRALIA POST
The Australia Postal Corporation Act 1989, section 26, states:
“Australia Post shall, as far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with sound commercial practice.”
The sale of the building to Far East is in breach of the above and does not adhere to sound commercial practice as it was conducted in secret, excluded Australian buyers from the process, disregarded the recommendations of the Clive Lucas Stapleton & Partners heritage report and was sold for a price that is significantly less than market value.
In fact, the sale was so secret that even the senior property people within Australia Post were not aware that the building had been put up for sale, let alone to Far East.
Australia Post commissioned a report by Clive Lucas Stapleton & Partners in April 2016 as part of the sale process, but it was subsequently discarded. Clive Lucas and Ian Stapleton have been the principal heritage architects for the Sydney GPO building since 1984, and that plan and report was very specific in recommending that an Australian buyer was preferred from a heritage perspective.
The CEO of Australia Post sold the Sydney GPO after his resignation in a secretive deal yet refuses to provide any justification for this action.
Foreign buyers purchased the iconic heritage site and one of the important colonial post offices in Australia for just $150 million which basically accounts for the return of the ground floor and lower ground floor. In doing this, they were basically given the rest of the building for free which includes:
- The top 4 floors of the building
- The 5 levels of carpark under the building
- The grand ballroom which seats 1,000 people + services
- The atrium seating used by the hotel lobby bar
When your main focus is maximising the return on your investment there can be no consideration for the heritage implications of your plans. Examples of the Far East redevelopment proposal are included in this link.
The sale approval appears to have been expedited without question or public comment requested by the Minister of Communications and the FIRB. Currently the Department of Environment merely reviewing the heritage covenant to include as part of the sale agreement.
Any covenant that is different to the discarded heritage report by Clive Lucas and Stapleton and Partners would be a further tragedy by our federal government.
SYDNEY GPO OUR HERITAGE
Discover which “public spaces” have been intentionally converted to “private spaces” for profit by Mark Burns, General Manager of The Westin Sydney.
“Australia Post shall, as far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with sound commercial practice.”The sale was pushed as an urgent sale by Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour after he announced that the building would not be sold. Further the sale was so secret that senior property people within Australia Post were not even aware that Ahmed Fahour had put the Sydney GPO building for sale. Ahmed Fahour sold the building despite knowing that he could have easily sold the Sydney GPO building into a historic trust such as the Historic Houses Trust of NSW, with the full $150 million price raised through a treasury bond (interest rate for 10 year bond was 2.4%) that would have resulted in Australia Post receiving its funds and the public maintaining ownership of the building while generating a profit of approximately $3 million per year which could have been used to repay the $150 million without cost to the tax payer. Under this scenario, there is no need to sell the building to a foreign buyer which Ahmed Fahour must have known previously holding the position as CEO of NAB (National Australia Bank) .