Roads and Maritime Services has no issues with the Albion Park Rail Bypass property negotiations with Shellharbour City Council, according to a phone conversation held earlier this week.
But since the matter had been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), neither RMS or Roads Minister Melinda Pavey would further clarify the issue.
Council general manager Carey McIntyre spoke to an RMS regional manager on Monday afternoon, following allegations from Kiama MP Gareth Ward that it was deliberately delaying property acquisition for the Albion Park Rail Bypass.
Mr Ward claimed RMS briefed him that the council was stalling on the sale of land so as to “blackmail” the government into paying for a separate project – the Albion Park Bypass.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba refuted the claims and threatened to refer him to ICAC – Mr Ward later referred himself to the corruption watchdog.
Cr Saliba said the RMS regional manager told Mr McIntyre that they had no concerns over the pace of the property negotiations.
“We’re told by the RMS regional director that there has been no comments made by them that council is interfering or holding up this process, or anything like that, or that we’re blackmailing the RMS,” Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba.
“They’re quite happy with the progress that has been made in regards to the acquisition of the land.”
RMS declined to state whether it advised Mr Ward that Shellharbour Council was deliberately delaying the process and if it was happy with the process of negotiations.
“Given the potential involvement of ICAC in this matter, it is not appropriate for RMS to comment at this time,” a spokeswoman said.
Mr Ward also wrote to Ms Pavey asking her to compulsorily acquire the Croome Road Sporting Complex land in question.
When asked what the minister’s intentions were, a spokesman replied “as this matter has been referred to ICAC it would be inappropriate to comment”.