The war between Sydney’s lord mayor and The Daily Telegraph shows little sign of abating, with Clover Moore hitting back at an article and editorial published this morning alleging she wasted $10 million. On her website, she’s published the questions sent to her by the Tele, along with her lengthy response, most of which was not quoted in the paper.

She says this will now be her standard approach to the paper, which has been a persistent critic in recent years.

“Given this is now almost a daily occurrence and we believe people deserve the right to the truth, we are going to start publishing the questions The Daily Telegraph asks us and the response we gave them on Clover’s website after they run their story, so people can see the facts the Tele is choosing not to publish,” a spokesperson for Moore told Crikey.

On her website, Moore has accused the Tele of ignoring the facts presented by her office, choosing instead to run “another misleading story and editorial”. But Daily Tele managing editor Rhett Watson told Crikey he stood by the story, and the paper’s editorial.

The Tele’s article focuses on delays to the City of Sydney’s plans to power several parts of the CBD through trigeneration — a technology that uses the byproducts from electricity generation to more efficiently heat and power buildings. The City of Sydney had intended to power most of its Green Square development through trigeneration, but in June 2013 announced that changes to the regulatory environment, including the decision to lower the carbon price, meant it was no longer commercially viable. So the City of Sydney said it would instead focus on fitting out its own buildings with the technology, at least initially.

The council’s embrace of trigeneration has been controversial. Last year, a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry found the City of Sydney had been “reckless” to spend $7.1 million, “hopefully” researching the viability of the technology.

The Tele picked up on this inquiry in its report this morning, which criticised the council for spending “$10 million on plans for alternative energy plants to power its public buildings” when “not one of the so-called tri-generation power stations has been built”.

It was one of several such projects the council has failed to deliver, according to the Tele, including an aquatic and leisure centre at Green Square and 10,050 affordable dwellings by 2030, as promised in its Affordable Renting Housing Strategy (the Tele wrote only 174 had been delivered).

The paper said this had drawn condemnation from residents who were “increasingly frustrated” by the council’s inability to complete major projects, though none of these critics were named or interviewed. The article was accompanied by an editorial calling on Sydney to “put the long nightmare of the Moore years behind it”.

These allegations were put to Moore, who provided the Tele with a lengthy response. But she says most of this was not published.

On the issue of affordable housing, Moore’s response said 900 had been “built or were being built”. “We are on track with what we can do under current State legislation,” the response stated.

In her post, Moore wrote that the suggestion she was not delivering projects is “nonsense”:

“The City has completed more major projects than any other local council in NSW … I believe you have the right to the truth, even if the Daily Telegraph refuses to publish it.”

Moore also objected to the paper’s assertion that $10 million had been spent for nothing on the trigeneration plans, saying the delay had been caused by changing regulation:

“State and Federal Governments changed regulations which reduced the economic case for sharing tri-generation between buildings. The City then changed the scope of our project and is now assessing tenders for a tri-generation plant at Town Hall House.”

In a response to questions by Crikey, Watson said he didn’t have a problem with Moore publishing his reporter’s questions, though he didn’t agree with her assertion her response wasn’t carried. “Moore’s side of the trigeneration story was given in the article,” he said.

“It’s good to see Clover Moore finally getting value for money from her army of media advisors. If only she dedicated as much time and resources to ensuring her taxpayers got value for money.” Moore’s allegedly large army of spinners has, of course, been another focus of the Tele.

Peter Fray

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