THE cost of moving the Florence Hummerston kiosk about 100m at Elizabeth Quay has hit more than $16 million after the State Government made a secret compensation payout to the former operators of the Chinese restaurant.
The Government last month agreed to a confidential settlement which takes total compensation to more than $12 million to Fai and Wenny Wang — who operated the historic kiosk as Grand Palace — and possibly as high as $15 million.
The figure includes the $7.25 million advance payment already made to Wang Nominees and comes on top of $4 million in relocation and reconstruction costs.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti could not comment on the payout figure but blamed the high cost on the former government.
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“This expensive situation is symbolic of the previous government’s reckless financial management and irresponsible project delivery,” she said. “Their mismanagement of this issue has left taxpayers exposed and is yet another reason that the State is experiencing record debt and deficit.
“The kiosk already cost taxpayers millions to dismantle and reconstruct under the previous government. It’s now haunting taxpayers again when we need the money most.
“This is funding which could have been spent on schools, hospitals or roads.”
Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said the cost was justified by the success of the precinct.
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“It is time people stopped knocking it (Elizabeth Quay) and were realistic about it,” Dr Nahan said. “People have moved on. The feedback I receive is that Elizabeth Quay has boosted Perth economically, commercially and socially.”
The Government’s expert valuer Murray Brown would not comment and a second valuer, John Del Dosso, could not be contacted.
Wang Nominees had initially sought $30 million in compensation over the sudden end of its 10-year lease with three 10-year options.
It initially held the lease with the City of Perth, which owned the building until it relinquished the land to the Government for Elizabeth Quay in 2012. The Wangs had paid $40,000 a year in rent.