O'Farrell urged to move to Liverpool

LIVERPOOL mayor Ned Mannoun had an indecent proposal for Premier Barry O'Farrell when he visited the city for a function last week.

"This is like our fourth date," Cr Mannoun said, of Mr O'Farrell's fourth appearance at an annual Liverpool Chamber of Commerce dinner.

"We've gotten to know each other, flirted a little and now it's time to consummate our relationship."

Cr Mannoun was suggesting that Mr O'Farrell should commit to opening state government offices in Liverpool's central business district.

He asked the Premier to sign a mocked-up oversized lease document stating that the government would fill 20,000 square metres of commercial office space with state government offices.

Cr Mannoun said that because it is a growth area, with many exciting developments, Liverpool would be an ideal location for the offices, while also offering cheaper real estate prices and rents.

Mr O'Farrell said he would not be signing the lease and joked that he didn't have a ratepayer-funded credit card like the mayor did so he couldn't make financial decisions on the spot.

He said that the government already has a presence in the area through Liverpool Hospital and organisations such as Business Link.

"But we are happy to work with local councils to identify all the properties available for state government offices," Mr O'Farrell said.

"And not because the councils are enthusiastic, but because it does make economic sense.

"In the coming year we will be making some announcements about this."

Liverpool architect Frank Mosca prepared the mock-up lease and said he had called on Mr O'Farrell to move government departments to Liverpool on his previous three visits too.

"It's our fourth date too," Mr Mosca said. "And although I'm not going to be as forward as the mayor, I would encourage you to consider bringing your offices to Liverpool because it will save you money.

"I'm really happy to hear that the next time you come here you plan to have a decision — and I hope that happens sooner rather than later."

Chamber of Commerce president Harry Hunt said he didn't believe Mr O'Farrell was offended by the dating analogy.

"Everyone was joking. It was a very informal atmosphere and everyone was having a good time," Mr Hunt said.

"It was a good way of getting our message across in a lighter way."

Mr Hunt said that the chamber wants to see Liverpool grow.

"And I think the Premier genuinely wants to help us. He's not one of those sly politicians who say one thing and do another. And it's about our turn now to get some assistance and I think he sees that."

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