NSW Valuer General David Parker has revealed he has stripped powers from valuers in his office to make final decisions on compensation owed to people who lose their properties for government projects, after becoming concerned they were not complying with the law.
Dr Parker’s decision several months ago has left only him and two others in the Valuer General’s office of 120 staff to make determinations on what the state government pays to affected property owners, sparking concerns it will further delay the settlement of forced acquisitions.
The change comes as the NSW government is set to ramp up compulsory acquisitions in central Sydney over the next year for the $27 billion Metro West rail line project.
Appearing before a parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday, Dr Parker said he had withdrawn legal authority from six valuers in his office to issue determinations because of concerns they had not been compliant with “policy, court precedent or the Act”.
Apart from the Valuer General, only his deputy and the Director of Valuations have the authority to issue determinations for valuations of properties to be compulsorily acquired.
His office has been racked by turmoil this year, culminating in the state’s then head of planning, Jim Betts, directing Dr Parker in May not to communicate with any staff in Valuer General NSW other than the executive director, the executive officer and his executive assistant.
Dr Parker told the inquiry that the directive amounted to “administrative interference” from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).
While the order was still in place, he could now communicate with eight out of 120 staff in his office, after the number of directors had been widened.