Three families are fighting to stop bulldozers smashing down their cherished homes as the federal government’s commuter car park rorts scandal takes a new twist.
The government has been fighting claims they unfairly allocated $660million for car park upgrades in targeted marginal seats at the last election.
The scheme includes a new multi-storey car park for Riverwood station in Sydney’s south – but comes at the cost of beloved family homes which will be demolished.
Now residents claim they are being kicked out their homes by the state government in the middle of the pandemic lockdown.
Three families are fighting to stop bulldozers smashing down their cherished homes. Seen here are residents Monika and Sam Charan who are being kicked out their home
Elderly couple Monika and Sam Charan have lived in their home in Webb Street for 28 years but Transport for NSW has now told them they’re compulsorily buying their home at the market rate – and kicking them out so they can demolish it.
‘It’s heartless,’ Ms Charan told Nine’s A Current Affair. ‘It’s too late to say anything because they have done what they wanted to do and leaving us on the streets.’
Husband Sam added: ‘They’re treating us like dogs. We didn’t know they had a plan to build a car park here.
‘We have been pushed around back and forth, and it is too much for us at our age.
The $41million project – funded by the federal government but managed by the state – will see an extra 140 car park spaces at the nearby train station. Seen here is an artists’s impression of the new development
The families were given 30 days notice of the compulsory acquisition order which will see them paid just over $1million for their homes, the current median rate for homes in the area.
Transport for NSW insist the families could be allowed to stay until the new year when work is due to begin, and they will also cover moving costs.
But the families fear they will be booted out when the sales go through on August 27.
The Charans’ neighbour Jing He bought her home 12 years ago and it’s home to three generations of her family. She has limited English and says she didn’t even know her home was being bought.
Residents seen here claim they are being kicked out their homes by the state government in the middle of the pandemic lockdown
‘I want to retire here,’ she told ACA. ‘I work here, my kids go to school here, it’s easy for shopping, to see the doctor, for my mum and dad, it’s easy.
‘I don’t want to listen – they already got a car park.’
The $41million project – funded by the federal government but managed by the state – will see an extra 140 car park spaces at the nearby train station.
It’s just one of many schemes nationwide which have come under scrutiny for the way they were selected and funded.
A hit list of the federal government’s top 20 marginal seats guided its $660 million project to build car parks at suburban train stations, the Australian National Audit Office told a Senate hearing last month.
It allocated money to electorates before projects were finalised. Treasury pushed for an open and competitive tender but the infrastructure department rejected this approach, senior ANAO official Brian Boyd said.
The Riverwood project was on a hit list drawn up by the office of then-urban infrastructure minister Alan Tudge, pictured centre, of the federal government’s top 20 marginal seats which guided its $660 million project to build car parks at suburban train stations
He also said the office of then-urban infrastructure minister Alan Tudge started with a list of top 20 marginals to be canvassed for funding.
This approach was used for the coalition government’s broader multi-billion dollar Urban Congestion Fund, Mr Boyd said.
Targeted electorates were asked to put forward projects for funding in the lead up to the 2019 election.
The same staff in the prime minister’s office linked to the so-called sports rorts saga also canvassed marginal seats for car park funding.
‘To some extent, it appeared there was almost like there was a menu,’ Mr Boyd said. ‘It was, “There’ll be $15million for an extra X spaces at this location.”
‘It was more a matter of electorate dollar amount with the project or projects to receive that dollar amount being ‘to be determined’.’
Transport for NSW defended the Riverwood development by insisting other options were considered but dismissed as unsuitable. Seen here is an artist’s overview of the work
One of the electorates canvassed for a car park that didn’t have a railway station in it, the hearing was told.
Transport for NSW defended the Riverwood development by insisting other options were considered but dismissed as unsuitable.
A statement added: ‘Alternative options for additional commuter parking near Riverwood Station were investigated.
‘Some options were not progressed due to significant walking distances for customers to Riverwood Station, or being too small to provide sufficient parking for customers.’