Billionaire’s letter threat to Gladys over ‘unreasonable’ MP
EXCLUSIVE: Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff warned Premier Gladys Berejiklian to control one of her senior ministers or he would call in the lawyers.
In an extraordinary display of force by the country's third richest person, the Meriton founder wrote a personal letter to the Premier saying Ryde MP Victor Dominello "is being completely unreasonable" in his opposition to the company's 1270 unit development in Sydney's north west.
The letter, written in July last year and obtained under freedom of information laws, has been seen as an unprecedented broadside against the government from the building industry.
"Mr Dominello continues to specifically attack my development proposal at Macquarie Park which has endorsement from both council and the state government," Mr Triguboff, who has a personal worth of $12.31 billion, wrote.
"We find it unusual that a state member takes such an active role in undermining development at a local level which we have never seen before and tried to attack the council and mayor for being consistent with the government's own polices."
Mr Dominello, who is the member for Ryde and NSW Customer Service Minister, had prepared an online petition objecting to the development proposal which consisted of four towers, the biggest of which being 42 storeys.
He was under enormous pressure about overdevelopment in Ryde in the lead up to the March 2019 state election.
"If he is unable to be controlled, then I will have no option but to commence my own legal proceedings," Mr Triguboff wrote.
"Let me know what you can do."
Ryde Council later recommended to refuse the development in December 2018.
During that month the Premier announced a public inquiry, to be run by the Greater Sydney Commission, into overdevelopment in Ryde.
Ms Berejiklian refused to say what she said in reply to Mr Triguboff's letter or to comment for this story.
Meriton's group general counsel Joseph Callaghan doubled down on Saturday, saying: "It is entirely appropriate that Mr Triguboff engages directly and transparently with political leaders to hold them accountable for certainty of outcome in industry".
"If something needs to be said to the powers that be, he will say it in no uncertain terms," Mr Callaghan said.
"The Premier always graciously thanks Mr Triguboff for his correspondence."
Mr Dominello told The Sunday Telegraph: "Mr Triguboff might be one of the country's richest and most powerful men, but I won't be bullied".
"I will continue to fight for my community. Harry does not intimidate me and my community will always come first," he said.
The GSC and then Planning Minister Anthony Roberts remain defendants in the case after the Premier was removed as a party in the proceedings last month.
If mediation fails the case will return to Land and Environment Court for a two-day trial starting August 21.
NSW Labor opposition planning spokesman Adam Searle said: "This letter shows a too close relationship between key developers and the current government".
"No wonder they are dragging their heels on building reforms, and no wonder the government can't come clean and tell the community how many of the 150 recommendations from the Lambert report they have acted on," he said.
Mr Callaghan said the "government now acknowledges what Harry has been saying for years, that planning in NSW is a mess"
In relation to the Talavera Rd development, he said: "The Department of Planning on behalf of the Greater Sydney Commission endorsed it as being the right development in the right area".
"Since no decision was forthcoming, we've asked the question of government on dozens of occasions, 'if you want us to change something about the plans, tell us."
"We're committed to work with you for the best community outcome'. We heard nothing in reply so reluctantly had to turn to the courts."