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Berejiklian talks in China over Barangaroo

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A major stakeholder in Sydney’s Barangaroo development claims he met former premier Gladys Berejiklian in China and urged her to get the project back on track.

Businessman Warwick Smith, executive chairman of Aqualand Australia, said he talked with Ms Berejiklian in 2018, urging her to get the project moving.

“It was a courtesy meeting between the premier (Ms Berejiklian) and the consul general and the people that were with her on the delegation and others as she was passing through China,” Mr Smith told the hearing on Thursday.

“There was no expectation that I was required to do anything, except say, ‘Hey, get on with it’,” he said.

Mr Smith said the pair met along with Ms Berejiklian’s delegation and members of the Chinese government.

The pair did not have a discussion about the sight lines, or views, for Barangaroo developments, as a NSW upper house inquiry into possible biases over Barangaroo developments continues.

Mr Smith said he counted Ms Berejiklian as an acquaintance and they had worked together at the Commonwealth Bank, but would not go so far as to call her a friend.

“She’s someone I know, obviously. I know a lot of people in public life,” he said.

“I found her to be capable.”

Another developer, Grocon, went into voluntary administration in 2019 after selling its rights to develop the Central Barangaroo precinct to Aqualand, after squabbling with Investment NSW over views.

Soon after the sale was completed, the desirable views were made available to Aqualand.

The company’s chief executive Daniel Grollo claimed in an earlier hearing he was misled by Investment NSW, leading him to sell central Barangaroo at an unvalued price.

Grocon is suing the NSW government over the project.

“My understanding was that it is well known that they were on the verge of potential financial difficulties,” Mr Smith said of the transfer between companies.

A recent proposal from Aqualand to develop the Central Barangaroo precinct with a 73-metre tower was rejected by the NSW government and strongly criticised by the National Trust, for failing to respect the Indigenous cultural sight lines.

Mr Smith said that rejection was “not unexpected”.

“The fact that they didn’t get a tower is not something that’s overly concerning because there’s a range of issues when you have to build a tower,” he said.

The committee is due to deliver its findings on February 17.


A major stakeholder in Sydney’s Barangaroo development claims he met former premier Gladys Berejiklian in China and urged her to get the project back on track.

Businessman Warwick Smith, executive chairman of Aqualand Australia, said he talked with Ms Berejiklian in 2018, urging her to get the project moving.

“It was a courtesy meeting between the premier (Ms Berejiklian) and the consul general and the people that were with her on the delegation and others as she was passing through China,” Mr Smith told the hearing on Thursday.

“There was no expectation that I was required to do anything, except say, ‘Hey, get on with it’,” he said.

Mr Smith said the pair met along with Ms Berejiklian’s delegation and members of the Chinese government.

The pair did not have a discussion about the sight lines, or views, for Barangaroo developments, as a NSW upper house inquiry into possible biases over Barangaroo developments continues.

Mr Smith said he counted Ms Berejiklian as an acquaintance and they had worked together at the Commonwealth Bank, but would not go so far as to call her a friend.

“She’s someone I know, obviously. I know a lot of people in public life,” he said.

“I found her to be capable.”

Another developer, Grocon, went into voluntary administration in 2019 after selling its rights to develop the Central Barangaroo precinct to Aqualand, after squabbling with Investment NSW over views.

Soon after the sale was completed, the desirable views were made available to Aqualand.

The company’s chief executive Daniel Grollo claimed in an earlier hearing he was misled by Investment NSW, leading him to sell central Barangaroo at an unvalued price.

Grocon is suing the NSW government over the project.

“My understanding was that it is well known that they were on the verge of potential financial difficulties,” Mr Smith said of the transfer between companies.

A recent proposal from Aqualand to develop the Central Barangaroo precinct with a 73-metre tower was rejected by the NSW government and strongly criticised by the National Trust, for failing to respect the Indigenous cultural sight lines.

Mr Smith said that rejection was “not unexpected”.

“The fact that they didn’t get a tower is not something that’s overly concerning because there’s a range of issues when you have to build a tower,” he said.

The committee is due to deliver its findings on February 17.

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