Westfield did not meet with Minister Beamer

22 July 2004

Countries: Australia

Westfield today rejected claims by Opposition Leader John Brogden that the company had lobbied Assistant Planning Minister Diane Beamer over the illegal Orange Grove Road development.

Westfield made its opposition to Orange Grove Road clear in submissions to Liverpool Council, the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, and Planning Minister Craig Knowles, but did not meet with Diane Beamer and made no submission to her.

Westfield has never made any secret of its opposition to these types of illegal developments.

Westfield and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia have held several meetings, and made numerous submissions, to the Government and Opposition in recent years on precisely these types of planning issues.

There is absolutely nothing improper with this. The Chairman of Westfield, Mr Frank Lowy, described Westfields approach to dealing with governments to a meeting of shareholders in April 2002:

Planning policy is just one area of critical importance to us.

Shopping centre developments are undertaken on a long-term horizon, usually 20 years or more, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in each centre.

It is vital that government planning policies are clear, and do not alter substantially over time in a way that allows ad hoc development or irregular developments that are outside accepted planning guidelines.

Where that happens, we have a right, and an obligation to our shareholders, to fight such proposals.

We are obliged to make our position known to governments and other decision makers because it affects our staff, our retailers, our shoppers, and ultimately, our shareholders.

In our dealings with Government we comply with all relevant laws. We talk with oppositions as well as governments. We communicate our views in an open and fact-based manner.