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Posted by gosfordpip on May 8, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Torbay linked to lifting of heritage order on donor's property



Former speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly Richard Torbay has been directly linked to the lifting of the heritage listing on a property owned by a major campaign donor.


('The developer, the $100k gift and the 'highly effective' MP' Sydney Morning Herald 9 May, p. 1,


Documents obtained by Greens NSW MP John Kaye show that Mr Torbay set up a meeting between the then Planning Minister Tony Kelly and the owners of the heritage-listed property Graham McCullagh.


Six months later Mr Torbay received a $100,000 donation from a McCullagh-owned company.





Georgiana and Graham McCullagh own GEGM Investments, which made a $100,000 donation to Torbay on 21 December 2012.


The McCullaghs also own the property and building known as Peroomba, 11 Harrington Avenue Warrawee, on which then Planning Minister Tony Kelly imposed a 12 month Interim Heritage Order on 15 June 2010.


The order was lifted on 13 August 2010 by order of the Minister Kelly, despite a draft independent heritage assessment deeming the property has significant local heritage value.


Documents obtained by Greens MP John Kaye through a NSW Upper House call for papers demonstrate Torbay's involvement:


Document 19: Emails establishing meeting between Minister Kelly, Speaker Torbay and Property owner McCullagh at the request of Torbay 21/22 June 2010


An email trail dated from 21 to 22 June 2010 starts with Margaret McDonald, Torbay's Private Secretary, requesting on behalf of McCullagh a meeting to discuss the interim heritage listing of Peroomba.


Mr Kelly’s staff member agreed the meeting and which occurred on 23 June.


A Department of Planning briefing note titled “Meeting with Richard Torbay

and Cameron McCullagh Re: Peroomba” was also drafted for Mr Kelly for the

purposes of the meeting.


Document 23: Email correspondence between Manager, Listings Team, Heritage Branch and Tom Gellibrand on commissioning of Tropman and Tropman for Heritage Assessment of Peroomba late June early July 2010


In this email correspondence, a Mr McCullagh is expressing his concerns over the veracity of claims that Peroomba has heritage significance.


McCullagh requests that he be shown the heritage report before it is finalised, and if this is not granted he wishes to speak with the

Minister’s office and he has “assurances that this will be possible at very short notice (therefore will not unduly slow the process)”


Document 25: Draft Heritage Assessment and Comparative analysis submitted by Heritage Architects Tropman and Tropman as annotated by Heritage Branch

July 2010


Page 39 of the report states in “Conclusions on Heritage Significance” that


“Peroomba….meets six (6) of the seven (7) criteria. Peroomba…is of local heritage significance"


The draft report goes on to recommend on page 49 that


“7.1 Peroomba…should be considered for heritage listing as a Local Item of Significance...

7.2 Peroomba should be appropriately conserved, including significant

building fabric and garden components. Some adaption would be acceptable.”


Document 26: Email to Tropman and Tropman regarding the Heritage Branch comments on Heritage Assessment and Comparative Analysis 15 July 2010


An email from the Heritage Branch to Tropman and Tropman requests that the local heritage status, rather than state significance, be stressed in the report.


Document 27: Peroomba, Heritage Assessment and Comparative Analysis submitted by Heritage Architects Tropman and Tropman July 2010


In issue 2 of the Heritage Assessment and Comparative Analysis, the recommendations appear markedly different from the first version, with

conclusions of stand-alone local heritage significance removed. The report



“7.1 Peroomba house and associated curtilage….should be considered as a contributory item to the Kur-ring-gai local government area…


“7.2 Peroomba should be appropriately managed, as part of a possible conservation area.”


Significant changes between the drafts include:

¨ Downgrading from 'heritage listing' to 'contributory item'

¨ Downgrading from 'appropriately conserved' to 'appropriately managed'


Document 31: Letters to Mr and Mrs McCullagh (owners) and general manager

Kur-ring-gai council 13 August 2010


The Minister informs the owners and the general manager Kur-ring-gai council John McKee that the heritage assessment of Peroomba concluded that “the property does not meet the threshold for inclusion either on the state Heritage Register or Kur-ring-gai’s Local Environmental Plan.”


Consequently the Minister advised that the Interim Heritage Order had been revoked.




John Kaye

Greens NSW MP

phone: 0407 195 455


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