The land at Pooh Corner (1.4 sq km) was owned by the Federal Department of Defence. Since 1998, the Department of Defence had indicated Pooh Corner was surplus defence land to be sold.
The Federal government was fully aware of the nature conservation values of Pooh Corner yet did not enter into any public consultation process before the "For Sale" signs suddenly appeared along the Wacol Station road in late February 2005. This was despite a letter from the government saying that there would be public consultation prior to any sale.
The decision to sell Pooh Corner was based on the 'Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy'.
Download 2005 Federal Government policy (pdf).
The real estate agent acting for the Federal Government was Jones Lang Lasalle. They marketed Pooh Corner as a site suitable for developement into an industrial estate. Prespecitve buyers were advised they had only until the 27of March 2005 to submitt tenders and that Commonwealth government due dilligence material was available at the real estate office. All this informaiton was provided in a glossy sales brochure.
Download joint Federal Government and Jones Lang Lasalle glossy Pooh Corner sales brochure (pdf).
After discussions with the real estate agent and various public servants within the Federal Government, Friends of Pooh Corner came to understand that Federal MP, Teresa Gambaro authorised the sale of Pooh Corner to the highest bidder (two month tender sale), in her role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Defence.
At the time (2005), Theresa Gambaro was the Federal member for the Queensland electorate of Petrie. Since 2010 Gambaro has been the Federal member for the seat of Brisbane.
In 2005 Theresa Gambaro's electorate included the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Although Pooh Corner was outside Teresa Gambaro's immediate electorate, it is still a part of the Brisbane metropolitan area and a part of what the Brisbane region has to offer. Hence Teresa Gambaro's decision to sell off public land with extremely high nature conservation values at Pooh Corner was a slap in the face to the entire Brisbane community, including the people of her own electorate of Petrie. Theresa Gambaro never came to come to Pooh Corner to see the high nature conservation forest and discuss issues with Friends of Pooh Corner and other local conservation groups.
In April 2005, FoPC launched an intense media campaign that targeted Theresa Gambaro in her capacity as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.
Pooh Corner was located in the Federal electorate of Oxley, where Bernie Ripoll was the local member. On the 12 April 2005, Mr Ripoll went to Pooh Corner and condemned Gambaro for her decision to sell Pooh Corner.
Download: Ripoll media release dated 12 April 2005 .
Five days later, the Deputy Mayor for Brisbane City Council, Cr David Hinchliffe along with Environment chairperson Cr Helen Abrahams and other councillors travelled to Pooh Corner to condemn the sale.
Download: Councillors' media release dated 17 April 2005.
The next day, Gambaro condemned the councillors and stated her support for Pooh Corner to be sold.
Download: Gambaro media release dated 18 April 2005.
However Gambaro became politically isolated as fellow Liberal party members would not support the sale of Pooh Corner. This included the former Liberal member for the Federal seat of Ryan, Michael Johnson and the then Liberal Mayor for Brisbane, Campbell Newman.
Gambaro was forced to change her position. At a joint press release on the 21 April Gambaro and Campbell Newman announced that the Government would gift Pooh Corner to the Brisbane City Council.
Download: Joint Gambaro and Newman media release dated 21 April 2005.
For a legal sale of land, there needed to be a nominal cost (consideration); this ended up being just $1.
The media reported 'people power' had prevailed against the Federal Government.