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CCC to probe allegations on Smiths Beach

27 September 2006

Suellen Gerrard, The West Australian (p.40)

The Corruption and Crime Commission will start a public hearing next month into allegations of misconduct surrounding the $330 million Smiths Beach development near Yallingup.

The hearing, due to start on October 23, will investigate whether any public officer was improperly influenced to engage in misconduct when dealing with Canal Rocks Pty Ltd’s residential and tourism plans for Smiths Beach.

The West Australian revealed in December the CCC was investigating about $15,000 in payments that four Busselton Shire Council candidates declared they received from retail lobby group the Independent Action Group in 2005 and any undeclared links IAG had to the proposed development.

Two successful candidates, John Triplett and Anne Ryan, told the Busselton Shire Council in December they had since been made aware of connections between IAG and Canal Rocks.

Lobbyists Brian Burke and Julian Grill were among the common denominators, playing a key role in IAG’s successful campaign against extended trading hours and in Canal Rocks’ attempts to win support for its Smiths Beach plan.

Cr Triplett yesterday welcomed the CCC hearing saying he hoped it would get to the bottom of the matter. Cr Ryan could not be contacted.

The Smiths Beach Action Group, which has led opposition to the development for nearly six years, also welcomed the hearing while suggesting the latest proposal on Canal Rocks did nothing to allay fears.

Group chairman Bob McKay said the plan for up to 120 houses, 250 short-stay units, a 100-bed hotel, a backpackers’ lodge, camping grounds and units, a beach club and 2000sq m of retail space was too big.

Busselton Shire lifestyle development director Nigel Bancroft said the plan was scheduled to go before a Busselton Shire Council meeting on October 25, but that could be delayed as a result of the CCC’s hearing.

A spokesman for Canal Rocks said the company hoped the Smiths Beach plan could be put out for public comment by November. It declined to comment on the CCC’s investigating or hearing.

© Copyright 2006 by West Australian Newspapers Ltd. This report is for information only. No charge for such use is made and the material is not being used for commercial purposes. The text has not been modified from the original report.

Related News Reports:

Probed lobby group to quit

Smiths developers will not discuss poll support

Councillors should step down: Smiths Beach Action Group

Payments to council candidates probed

Councillors declare interest in Smiths Beach

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