No compromise on post-dam lease
THE State Government has opted for the demolition of a luxury $350,000 Coles Creek home, purchased for the Traveston Crossing dam, rather than negotiate an extended lease with its occupants and former owners.
The government’s rigid negotiating position means it will also pay rates on the home’s land-locked site for the next 26 years with no simple means of using or selling the property.
On the other side of the negotiating table, members of the Lynch family – Simon, Tracy and their three children – are finding that the dam nightmare is far from over yet.
For the children, the Traveston Crossing dam has been a part of their lives since they were born.
“That’s how long it’s been going on,” Mr Lynch said yesterday.
“When this started we didn’t have kids. Now we have three.”
They now face the heartbreak of demolishing the home they renovated.
But Mr Lynch said they still have trouble believing that the government will allow them to strip the home of all its fittings, effectively destroying it, but will not allow them to live there and pay rent.
“We’ve had the house valued at $350,000 but (auctioneer) Tom Grady said we might get $17,000 or so for some of the fittings.
“He couldn’t believe it. He just shook his head. So did our solicitor John Cartwright.
“We’re aiming at an auction in late June,” he said.
However, it is not good news for the government either.
The part of the property on which the house is built was purchased for Stage One of the dam. Those leases expire next month.
However, the home’s only access to Coles Creek Rd runs through a section purchased for Stage Two, which the Lynches control under a Stage Two lease which runs until 2035.
THE Queensland government appears to have almost literally negotiated itself into a corner in its dealings with the Lynch family at Coles Creek.
Allowing the family to stay on in the house purchased for Stage One of the dam would generate income rather than expense.
But instead, an apparently rigid government negotiating position means big costs for taxpayers.
The property is one of hundreds purchased for the Traveston Crossing dam project under individually negotiated lease-back deals.
The one signed by the Lynch family puts them in an apparently strong negotiating position, with demolition rights meaning that if they cannot live there they can knock it down.
Their continuing control of the front part of the property means they can block all existing access to the home site.
And the way the Lynches have been treated in their attempts to talk a deal, Mr Lynch said he is in no mood to forgive.
“I’ll lock the gate and I won’t let them in,” he said on-site yesterday.
Mr Lynch said he was hopeful at one stage when he managed to speak to former Queensland co-ordinator-general Graeme Newton, who was also previously head of the government’s dam construction company, Queensland Water Infrastructure. “I’ve got no complaints about Graeme,” Mr Lynch said. “We had a chat. I really enjoyed his company.”
But he said the frustration of trying to negotiate a new lease deal has been “a nightmare”.
Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe told Gympie MP David Gibson the government would honour but not vary existing leases.
The Lynches would have another opportunity to buy back the property “should the government decide to release the property to the market for sale in the future”.