WA Govt Apartment Buy Burns Taxpayers: ALP

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Taxpayers have been burnt by the West Australian government after it paid $30 million upfront for dozens of luxury apartments it cannot sell, the opposition says.

The Barnett government bought the 50 apartments in the Pelago East tower in Karratha from developer Finbar in 2012, before construction began.

The one- to two-bedroom apartments were valued between $495,000 to $755,000.

Labor leader Mark McGowan said the government had failed to sell 28 of the apartments it put on the market 10 months after completion.

And now all of them were being offered under shared equity, a scheme usually aimed at struggling first-home buyers.

Mr McGowan said the remaining 22 apartments in the East tower and another 15 government-owned apartments in the West tower were listed as rented, but it was not known if they were occupied.

He said there had been community resistance to living in the high-rise buildings, which tower over the regional oil and gas hub.

Mr McGowan noted Finbar and its preferred builder, Hassen, donated about $76,000 to the Liberal and National parties before the March 2013 state election.

He also pointed out Finbar reported a $36.5 million record profit in 2014, citing the Pelago project as a success.

Property prices in Karratha, which was named Australia’s fastest-growing mining town in 2013, dropped as the resources industry transitioned from construction to production.

While rents and property prices remain high, many investors have lost money in the market’s downward slide.


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