Properties linked to MP John Sidoti lie just metres from site of new metro train station
By Tom Rabe and Matt O’Sullivan
October 21, 2019
Several properties linked to embattled government MP John Sidoti lie just metres from the proposed location for one of seven new metro train stations announced by the Berejiklian government.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday unveiled the locations of the Metro West stations, including one at Five Dock in Sydney’s inner west where Mr Sidoti has declared an interest in four properties.
Mr Sidoti stepped down from the front bench in September after the state’s corruption watchdog launched a preliminary investigation into allegations concerning his property interests.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Transport minister Andrew Constance speak about whether stood-down sports minister John Sidoti had any input on where metro stations would be built.What to claim on your tax return
The Liberal member for Drummoyne has declared an interest through his family in properties at 120, 122 and 124 Great North Road and 2 Second Avenue at Five Dock, according to the latest register of interests.Advertisement
The proposed site of the Five Dock metro station announced on Monday lies within 100 metres of those properties linked to the Sidoti family, including one directly opposite the site.
Mr Sidoti, who was a parliamentary secretary for Transport between April and August 2015, and parliamentary secretary for planning between October 2014 and March 2015, has previously denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Asked his reaction to the proposed site of the metro station at Five Dock being close to properties of which he has declared an interest, Mr Sidoti said he did not want to jeopardise the preliminary Independent Commission Against Corruption assessment of his property interests.
“I respect the process and I will not make any further comment until it is complete,” he said in a statement.
Most of the Sidoti-linked properties are owned by his parents Richard and Catherine, while NSW Parliament disclosures show 120 Great North Road was owned by a proprietary limited staff super fund, of which he has declared that he and his wife are no longer trustees.
Several properties linked to embattled government MP John Sidoti lie just metres from the proposed location for one of seven new metro train stations.CREDIT:SMH
However, the NSW Opposition labelled Mr Sidoti as the “big winner” from the metro line.
“The planned station at Five Dock is right on properties owned by Mr Sidoti and his family. These appear to have escaped compulsory property acquisitions but will attract significant uplift in value,” Labor said.
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay called for the Premier to stop paying Mr Sidoti’s ministerial wage while he sat on the sidelines. “It’s time to end this farce. Mr Sidoti’s ministerial salary must be terminated,” she said.
But Ms Berejiklian said decisions about the metro line had been made by experts at the state’s transport agency, which had presented a case to government for the project, and she had “never ever” had a discussion with Mr Sidoti about the location of a metro train station in his electorate of Drummoyne.
“We would never take a decision unless it was the right decision,” she said.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance also said Mr Sidoti had not had any discussions with him about the site of a station at Five Dock, adding that the suburb was identified under the previous Labor government in 2009 as an appropriate location for a metro train station.
“Ultimately we are advised by Transport [for NSW] and the Metro team on the best way to build this. I haven’t had any discussions in relation to Five Dock [with Mr Sidoti],” he said.
Mr Sidoti and his property interests came under intense scrutiny during a parliamentary estimates committee in September, including a 10 per cent share he had acquired in a Rouse Hill development near another slated Metro project.
During the estimates hearing, Greens MP David Shoebridge used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mr Sidoti of using “insider knowledge” to purchase properties.
“I am saying outright that this is corrupt conduct under section 8 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act and you should be referred for investigation,” Mr Shoebridge said at the time.
Tom Rabe is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald
Matt O’Sullivan is the Transport Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.