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Smiths Beach project a step closer

06 December 2006

Suellen Gerrard, The West Australian

The controversial Smiths Beach development has moved a step closer, despite explosive evidence that the multi-million-dollar project is at the heart of a public service corruption scandal. Busselton Shire Council is expected to make public plans for the $330 million tourist and residential project next week, even though the development has failed to comply with key planning rules. Canal Rocks wants to build two hotels with a total of 100 beds, 263 tourist units, 104 dwellings, eight cabins, a 60-bed backpackers’ hostel, 1700sqm of commercial floor space and 200sqm of community floor space on about 40ha at Smiths Beach, south of Yallingup.

The development is at the centre of a Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry into the methods used to organise payments from Canal Rocks to several local council candidates.

The inquiry has focused on the actions of lobbyists working for Canal Rocks, including former WA premier Brian Burke and his business colleague Julian Grill.

The original Smiths Beach plan drew 3000 complaints when floated six years ago. Smiths Beach Action Group chairman Bob McKay said he expected an even bigger outcry now because opponents were aware of the backroom deals exposed by the CCC.

Shire president Kevin Douglas said he was confident there would be a quorum to vote on the matter next Wednesday, despite several councillors being embroiled in the inquiry.

A Canal Rocks spokesman said the developer was pleased the project had reached the advertising stage after thoroughly working through all issues raised by council staff.

© 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.

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