HUNTER Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes has never directly declared a conflict of interest about his Newcastle property holdings at an HDC board meeting, contrary to HDC evidence at the parliamentary inquiry into Newcastle planning issues.
On November 7, HDC chairman Paul Broad answered ‘‘Absolutely’’, when asked if Mr Hawes had ‘‘stated the conflict of interest and then stepped out of the board meeting’’ every time the conflict of interest arose.
But in a response to questions on notice yesterday, Mr Broad defined the grounds where a person needed to declare a conflict of interest.
He said a declaration was needed where the ‘‘board made a decision endorsing the Newcastle urban renewal strategy and/or the future possible truncation of the rail line.’’
‘‘This is consistent with the limited decision-making role that the corporation has on these matters,’’ Mr Broad said.
Because the HDC board had only once, in 2009, made a decision endorsing truncation of Newcastle rail line at Wickham, and Mr Hawes was not employed as general manager until February 2011, there was no declaration from him, Mr Broad said.
On November 24, Department of Planning secretary Carolyn McNally told the inquiry Mr Hawes gave an ‘‘update’’ about ‘‘urban renewal activities, including the truncation of the railway line’’ at the request of board members at an HDC board meeting in September.
Ms McNally told the parliamentary inquiry Mr Hawes had not declared his 50per cent interest in properties at Beresford Street, and 7per cent interest in a Hunter Street property near Wickham railway station at that meeting.
In his responses to questions yesterday, Mr Broad confirmed that Mr Hawes did not disclose his property interests in a letter to former Planning Minister Brad Hazzard in February 2012, on behalf of HDC, advocating truncation of the rail line at Wickham.
The letter said ‘‘investors, landowners and developers’’ supported the move.
In response to questions about how and when ‘‘the minister responsible for the HDC’’ was first advised of Mr Hawes’s property holdings, Mr Broad said ‘‘it is not known’’ if Mr Hawes’ declaration to Mr Broad and a senior planning official was ‘‘relayed’’ to the minister.
Mr Hawes noted a DA to redevelop his Beresford Street properties on his pecuniary interest register in February 2013. The redevelopment was approved by Newcastle City Council in 2010.
Mr Hawes’s pecuniary interest register, supplied to the parliamentary inquiry, declared two conflicts of interest relating to ‘‘Company director/property ownership’’ and ‘‘Former employment, Buildev Group’’.
In response to a question about whether he had ‘‘firms/partnerships’’ which may give rise to a conflict of interest, Mr Hawes noted his interest as a director in the ‘‘property owning entities’’ Meremen Pty Ltd and Ledroc Pty Ltd.
He also noted he was a trustee of the Jabstan Family Trust which ‘‘operates Castlecrest Consulting, a locally based firm’’.
Hunter Development Corporation, Mr Broad and Mr Hawes did not respond to questions.
NSW Greens MP and inquiry member David Shoebridge said he was ‘‘astounded at these most recent revelations’’.
The inquiry is expected to hand down its interim report later this month.