Victoria Towers, 36-38 Victoria street, Burwood. Property records show Phillip Doueihi purchased a two bedroom apartment at 36-38 Victoria Street, Burwood for $700,000 on May 28, 2015.Burwood, Sydney. 29th August, 2017. Photo: Kate GeraghtyBurwood Liberal councillor Tony Doueihi did not declare an interest and voted to approve extra apartments in a $26 million development in which his son had recently purchased a unit when it came before a state government planning panel on which he sits.
Cr Doueihi also voted when the matter came before Burwood council, despite rules stating councillors must leave the chamber if they or a relative have a pecuniary interest.
Property records show Phillip Doueihi purchased a two-bedroom apartment at 36-38 Victoria Street, Burwood for $700,000 on May 28, 2015.
Despite this, Cr Doueihi did not declare an interest when a development application to add additional floor space came before the Sydney East Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Cr Doueihi, along with panel members John Roseth, David Furlong and ALP Burwood councillor George Mannah approved the application on July 14, which added 11 units to the building.
Burwood council had recommended approval.
At a Burwood council meeting on July 27, Cr Doueihi put forward a motion that the council enter into a voluntary planning agreement with the developer, P and N Group Holdings Pty Ltd.
Voluntary planning agreements allow developers extra floor space in return for a financial contribution to the council for community facilities. Minutes show Cr Doueihi did not declare an interest.
Records show stamp duty was paid on the transfer of ownership of the apartment to Mr Doueihi on January 11, 2016. Separate records state settlement occurred on February 11.
The NSW Local Government Act states that a pecuniary interest is one where there is “a reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person”.
It says such an interest extends to a councillor’s “spouse or de facto partner or a relative of the person, or a partner or employer of the person”.
Councillors are required to disclose a pecuniary interest at a council meeting “as soon as practicable” and leave the chamber during discussion and voting on the matter.
The same rules apply to members of a Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Cr Doueihi, who is standing on the Liberal ticket for Strathfield council at the September 9 local government elections, did not respond to repeated phone calls, texts and detailed questions.
Phillip Doueihi is travelling overseas and Fairfax Media was unable to contact him via his business partner.
The owner of P and N Group Holdings, Peter Sleiman, said it was “news to me” that Cr Doueihi had participated in approvals of the development application after his son had purchased his unit.
Mr Sleiman said he had “no particular dealings” with Cr Doueihi about the purchase of the unit.
Mr Sleiman said he “knows of” Cr Doueihi. “He’s Lebanese, I see him at Mass,” he said.
However he insisted: “There were no favours” over the development, which was first approved in 2012.
“If someone was doing me a favour, they didn’t because [the development approval process] nearly killed me,” he said.
“That’s how long it took”.