Lease would double parking fees

PERTH City Council’s proposed 99-year lease on the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre car park for $50.4 million will force commuter parking fees to $10 a day – a rise of about 50 per cent on current prices.

A council source said the car park’s value had been assessed at $40 million but Multiplex was insisting council take it for more than $10 million more.

“Council doesn’t have the money. We would have to borrow it and that is taking a huge risk,” he said.

Perth City councillors are split over whether to accept or reject Multiplex’s deal. Some believe the convention centre must go ahead at all costs while others believe it is too risky for council to become involved.

If council knocks back the Multiplex deal there is a very strong chance the PCEC will not be built.

This will be a devastating blow for Perth’s convention industry. The Perth Convention Bureau has already pencilled in 21 events for the site, with the earliest planned for February 25, 2003.

Five of those events are conferences that are expected to draw 6,200 delegates and be worth $42 million to WA.

Multiplex has until May 28 to tell Government how it plans to fund the construction of the centre.

If the Multiplex deal falls through, many in the convention industry believe the Government will not consider a new one.

The WA Government will be contributing about $135 million to the $310 million PCEC project, which also includes the construction of a soccer stadium on land to the west of the Perth Entertainment Centre.

Government is also throwing in the land under the centre and stadium on a peppercorn rental basis. The land is believed to be worth $75 million.

With the council contribution, Multiplex needs to raise just $125 million.

The time frame for the deal with council to be completed is tight.

If council accepts Multiplex terms, it will have to advertise its decision and allow a month for public comment.

Wilson Parking and Secure Parking are understood to have tendered for the management contract of the car park but are not prepared to enter into the same sort of lease arrangement as council.

Councillor Bert Tudori said he believed the Perth needed the centre but the deal had to stack up before council put any money in.

“We’re being hustled into this deal,” Mr Tudori said.

“This could be an albatross around council’ neck.”

He said he had received six letters from different interest groups all demanding council accept the Multiplex deal.

“But all of the letters are worded almost exactly the same,” Mr Tudori said.

“And none of them are from council ratepayers. I suggest we get the Fremantle, Vincent, Subiaco, Victoria Park and Perth councils to each put in $10 million.”

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