Maurice Furlan's story

From a houseboat builder to a single father.

Mr. Mike Baird's statement on twitter showed his commitment  for a strong ICAC. In recent years I have given them a compact disc of information which reveals serious malpractice. 

It relates to the Botel/Marina Project on the Murray River at the time when his father was NSW Transport MinisterHis officers were involved in my Family Law issues. 

His ministry included NSW Maritime Services Board. He became minister after the Labor defeat in which Bob Carr lost his NSW Environment and Planning ministry. Prior to this,


  • Maritime approved our plans for a very large                  commercial houseboat. 
  • Maritime issued us licence for a mooring.
  • Maritime approved its construction as commercial marine      development.

Recently, I discovered the 

website. It makes a fraudulent claim that years ago, NSW Minister Bob Carr's Planning Department contracted them to give advice to Wakool Shire Council about a BOATEL Development on the Edward River near Wakool, NSW. The current council denies this claiming that there was no such application. 

At that time however, there was an Application for a BOTEL Development on the Murray River at Barham, NSW. Your father's maritime officers issued a mooring licence and approved construction of our commercial marine development

Waterhouse Enterprises also provided copies of a substantial Environmental Impact statement to many departments. However Jim Small MP, who was our local member told Parliament that council refused the Botel Application because the EIS had not been provided.

Around the same time Case 10585 of 1989 - Appeal  was proceeding in the NSW Land and Environment Court over Wakool council refusal of MOTEL Development Application.

The judge in that case miscarried justice. He did not hear the case on its merits choosing instead to consider whether the application was properly lodged. The matter was heard by telephone conference without my invitation and as far as I know; without the inclusion of other stakeholders - Maritime and Crown Lands.

Commissioner Ipp's letter to me suggests a breach in the display of an Environmental Impact Statement. There were actually 2 statements; November 87 and February 88. The authorities kept them secret and conducted an anti-botel campaign through a number of regional newspapers and TV8 Swan Hill. It persisted for 4 years.

His reference to the newspaper article from 1987 is a distraction because I provided provided the ICAC an article from February 1988 which published a letter from Bob Crawford then Shire President. His letter requested the NSW Planning Department take over the Botel Application because they were incapable of administering the "major" project. 

Crawford was the newly elected shire president and new council also kept secret, the Environmental Impact Statements referred to. Subsequent to the ICAC letter I have provided them and the Victorian  IBAC, a compact disc containing all of the documents presented on this site some and many more. Despite their 'explosive' content the NSW Commission has not made further contact to this date.

In this letter bearing your father's name he considered the Botel as "designated" development thus requiring a Local Environment Plan for the rezoning of the  Murray River. This requirement came about as a direct result of the "Murray Region Environment Plan" by Bob Carr on 25 September 1987, in pursuance of EPA Act 1979.  

I think your father knew that our application had been lodged long before on 4 January 1987 under EPA Act 1961. At that stage the MREP was a draft and it was not gazetted until October of that year. 

Bob Carr knew of our plans but he and subsequent ministers were intent on destroying the project. He did everything possible to deflect the involvement of the Maritime Authorities. There was no confusion that the Botel was not a motel.

This letter from your father's regional manager clearly gave approval for the vessels pictured above. It contradicts your father's advice to the Deputy NSW Premier that the MSB had a minor role in the project.

Wal Murray was fully aware that the project was intending to provide public waste facilities for use by other vessels. The Public Works Department had promised, but not delivered them for three years. This newspaper article from 1985 headed 'Houseboat Sewerage'  confirms my statement.

Mathew Singleton was your father's assistant minister. The following transcript reveals that he lied about the role of the MSB to the House of Parliament.

Your father destroyed the physical evidence and the shire destroyed the files. When Smithson surfaced in 2012, they revealed a link to events at Swan Hill. Their following reference to a Boatel on the NSW Edward River is fraudulent.

Council denies the Edward River Boatel Application

This is the real Botel application.

***** JANUARY 1987  *****

Crown Lands were Joint applicants however they did not appear at the Land and Environment Court Appeal. Perhaps they lost their invitation. Shame it was heard by telephone conference.

Here are a couple of other boats. Strange but they do not appear in the Register of development applications.

Click here to edit text

This picture was taken in August 1988 and it shows two vessels/houseboats/botel marina. The one on the right was completed to lock-up stage and it had provision for an outboard motor. The larger vessel on the left floated on a platform measuring 12 x 12 Metres on 27 pontoons. Alongside these was to have been a floating pool and deck areas.  

The Wakool shire council blockaded the area preventing a crane from lifting the upper floor of the large domed 20 sqare building. This prevented the lower floor from being installed beneath. The upper floor would have been 4 Metres higher, set over the stub walls which are visible. 

Thank you for visiting my webpage. The site is devoted to telling the story of the demise of the Botel Marina Project at the hands of NSW Politicians  including Messrs Matthew Singleton, James Small, Bruce Baird and Robert Carr. Carr was then NSW Planning Minister. He later became NSW Premier and later again the Australian Foreign Minister. While he was the NSW Planning Minister he wanted to introduce a Regional Environment Plan for the Murray River. It came into force in November 1987, long after the Botel Deand it was the reason for Botel's destruction.

My family wanted to build and live aboard a houseboat in early 1986 at Barham, NSW. It was not long before the idea grew to become a major NSW event. By December 1990, NSW Maritime officials seized the vessels from Victoria and destroyed the largely constructed project. The NSW maritime minister at the time was Bruce Baird, the father of the current NSW Premier Mike Baird and Julia Baird, host of the ABC Drum program.

The NSW Hansard of 10 November 1988 (Page 3188) has two false transcript records about Waterhouse Enterprises and my Development Application for the on the Murray River at Barham, NSW. Messrs Matthew Singleton MP, then member for Coffs Harbour, Minister for Administrative Services and Assistant Minister for Transport and former Minister for Water Resources together with James Small MP, then member for Murray made derogatory speeches to the NSW Parliament. Small stated correctly that the project was located on the Murray River, “ the township of Barham within my electorate.” However, the remainder of his speech is false and misleading; for example,

J.S. “…After all the protests that the Wakool shire council has received, it has now called for an Environmental Impact Study and as Waterhouse Enterprises has not already undertaken such a study, the council now opposes the development …”.

In 2012 I discovered a contradiction about the EIS posted on, >Capability page > Statutory planning > page 7 claiming the BOATEL was located on the Edwards River “near the township of Wakool” and they examined the Environmental Impact Statement eleven months earlier, as follows.

Project: Barham Boatel Environmental Impact Statement

Client: Dept. of Environment and Planning, Sydney, NSW

Date: January 1988

A proposal to establish a Boatel (a floating Hotel / Motel) on the Edward River (an anabranch of the Murray River) near the township of Wakool. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared and Smithson Planning (under contract to NSW Dept. of Environment and Planning) undertook an assessment of the proposal and provided advice on the application and the EIS to the Wakool Shire Council.

This revelation now calls into question the role that Robert (Bob) Carr, then NSW Planning Minister played in destroying that project for the sake of introducing his Murray Region Environment Plan in November 1987. I subsequently contacted the three parties in 2012 to find more detail, but none was forthcoming. I sent this email to Bob Carr, who was then Australia’s Foreign Minister and known for keeping diaries and writing memoirs. He did not respond. Hence, I paid $30 fee and lodged a formal Freedom of Information Application with the council under NSW GOVERNMENT INFORMATION PUBLIC ACCESS. It revealed the Smithson claim is fraudulent and that entries in the Wakool Shire – Register of Development Applications are fraudulent.

  • Wakool Shire admitted that they did not receive an application for a BOATEL on the Edward River as described by Smithson. Furthermore, Wakool Shire provided copies from their REGISTER OF DEVELOPMENT APPLICATIONS which confirms one public notice and reveals a Development Application entry for a BOTEL at BARHAM on 14 January 1987, and a fraudulent later application which is falsely numbered and dated. The NOTICE OF REFUSAL shown here [ 370 ] is for application 13/88 rather than 1/87 as shown in the register I had not seen the register entries previous to 2012.


  • Council did not REFUSE application 1/87 as shown in the register. This news article of February 1988, a year later, reports that the council had not acted on the application and confirms the register entry is fraudulent. The article also shows a letter from Bob Crawford, Shire President to the Secretary, NSW Department of Planning. It confirms the existence of a ‘SUBSTANTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT’ which council kept from the public and later destroyed. This evidence contradicts the previous statements of Smithson and Small and numerous media articles of the time.

Mr. Bruce Baird [ P414 ] is the father of Mike Baird the current NSW Premier and Julia Baird, presenter of the ABC current affairs program DRUM. In 1990, he was the Minister responsible for Maritime Services Board NSW (MSB) through his Transport portfolio. His assistant Minister was Matthew Singleton, previously mentioned. Their officers seized and destroyed both approved/licensed vessels from the Koondrook bank of the Murray River in the State of Victoria. This was beyond their jurisdiction namely the Murray River in NSW. This Barham Bridge news article misreported the event as having taken place at Barham in NSW.

In 2013 I paid $80 to the Land and Environment Court NSW for file copy of Case 10585 of 1989. It was an appeal to that court for the council rejection of Botel application in August of !988. Justice Hemmings heard it by telephone conference in which I was not included. The file contains the ‘substantial Environmental Impact Statement’ (EIS ) referred to previously. It does not contain any correspondence or material relating to the 1987 application, which was held by my solicitors. The media, at the time reported the appeal as lost however; the file reveals that Justice Hemmings did not hear the case on its merits, but rather, whether the case could proceed.

In 2013 Council advised that they destroyed hunreds of pages of correspondence including maps and unpublished environmental reports provided for the BOTEL Development Application on the Murray River 1986 – 1990. They claim they did it in accordance with a NSW Record Disposal Authority. However, the State Records Office instructed the then 2013 council to return my fee and advised that officers should not have destroyed the records if there was controversy, legal action and/or change of government policy. A link to the hundreds of relevant documents and reports for that period is contained herein. The documents reveal all three exceptions.

My family spent about $50,000 between 1986-1990 for the building of large stationary private /commercial houseboats as well as Australia’s first botel marina development. We chose this option instead of purchasing outright a brick home on the banks of the Edward River at Deniliquin NSW. We made the following payments believing it was our right to live aboard a vessel on the Murray River subject to NSW Regulations for Living on Vessels and to conduct a lawful boat and domehouse construction business in Australia. The authority at that time was the Maritime Services Board of NSW.

The following items represent some of the expenditure for this purpose. They were made following and because of Maritime houseboat approval [ P43 ] and because of the support of the Mr James Small MP, Member for Murray [ P45 P46 P57 P58 ], Wakool Shire Council [ P85 P88 ] and the Barham Progress Association, [ P47 P50 ] at the time.

  1. [ P 3 ] of May 2, 1986, shows that my family paid $160 for kit home plans and engineering calculations from Glencor Building Systems SA.
  2. [ P 3.1 ] of May 22, 1986, shows that we registered the business, Waterhouse Enterprises with the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs.
  3. [ P 39 ] of September 23, 1986, shows that we paid our solicitors Morrison and Sawers of Rochester, Vic. $210 for registration of Botel business name with Corporate Affairs Office.
  4. On 14 January 1987 [ P 1.2 ] we paid Wakool Shire Council an Assessment Fee of $407.00 on a Development Application for a Botel at the southern end of Noorong Street, Barham NSW.
  5. We paid Colville Engineering about $15000 for preformed steel plate sections from Furphy Engineering, Sheparton and for fabrication of 34 pontoons at his engineering works.
  6. We paid about $2000 for the construction of iron scale removal plant to prepare pontoons for specialised paint treatment and 200L concentrated acid.
  7. On 27 January 1987 [ P 79A ], we paid Glencor Industries $10,710 for 36‘ Hexadome and Beehive kit home components.
  8. On 25 February 1987 [ P98 ], we paid Morrison and Sawers Account for conference which was held 8 December 1986.
  9. E 280487, we paid $110 to Crown Land Agent for Special Lease Application.
  10. We paid $120 to Maritime Services Board NSW for Mooring WS012 and inspection fee at Koondrook.
  11. E228 E229 E235 of September 1987, shows that we paid Morrison and Sawers $85 for defamation letter directed at Mr Bill Pepper then President of the unincorporated Barham Progress Association.
  12. [ P 268 ] of 15 February 1988, shows that we paid B Mitsch Town Planner $2268.50 for an Environmental Impact Report.

We also bought various building components including - aluminium windows, patio doors and vertical blinds, sheet flooring, decking timber, 40hp outboard motor and aluminium punt, arched corrogated iron sheets, steel for staircase structure and for mooring assembly.

Furthermore, the Smithson link now confirms a most sinister connection between events relating to the 5-year botel matters and others, which followed for the next 5-year Family Court of Australia proceedings of custody, access, property, and divorce and intervention matters to 1995, at which time my partner, Karen passed away. These matters began in the Swan Hill Magistrates Court and arose because of the above. In that court Justice Smithers, while I was present inside the building, awarded ex-parte orders for sole custody of my son to his mother together with access order for regular contact. This was beyond his power. His order had no starting date and went on to cause immense conflict and anguish between us and our extended families. This lead to the re-emergence of Karen’s cancer.

The case culminated successfully when Mrs. Smithers represented me in further custody proceedings with the maternal grandparents as interveners. The case number is 10875 of 1990. I was in the care of the COMMONWEALTH REHABILITATION SERVICE for much of this time having suffered mental trauma.

Today Boatel Houseboat Mannum, on the Murray River in SA has maritime and council approval to operate as a vessel and as a ‘stationary floating apartment’ because it is pollution free; it demonstrates precisely my family’s intention nearly thirty years ago. It plans to expand to Echuca. The Botel Marina Project on the Murray River at Barham/Koondrook Mr. Small lied to the the NSW Parliament 2 years after he and others mentioned below supported the project as shown here P57 P58 P47 P85 The following is the Hansard record of his misleading speech.

3 188 BARHAM BOATEL -10 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY.

Mr SMALL (Murray) [4.20]: seek to talk about a development on waterways-in this case a boatel on the Murray River at the township of Barham within my electorate. The construction of a floating motel on the river waters is creating problems for and concern to many people in the area. A formal application, which I was requested to support, was made to the Wakool shire council in early 1987 in the name of Waterhouse Enterprises. At the time the application was made I took the matter up with the Minister. The development is on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, upstream of the town of Barham, along a beautiful sandbar. At that point the Murray is very narrow [ 10 ]. The boatel is designed to contain 15 floating units on seven pontoons located on each side of the central recreation and house type unit. Being upstream of the town, the development will endanger the town's water supply by polluting and contaminating it [ 8 ]. It will be necessary for the boatel development to be connected to a sewage disposal depot [ 13 ]. Since the local people have realized the consequences of this type of facility being built they have raised many objections to it. The Barham Progress Association has come out strongly against the development since it was started, expressing the worries of the citizens of the town. The Murray Valley Water Diverters Association has objected to the proposal. The Murray Valley League and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission 492 493 have objected to the proposal. The local public have presented a petition bearing 270 signatures against the proposal. After all the protests that the Wakool shire council has received, it has now called for an environmental impact study and as Waterhouse Enterprises has not already undertaken such a study, the council now opposes the development. The application, if implemented, would create a precedent. 213 Nowhere on the Murray River is there such a floating vessel permanently anchored in one spot. As I mentioned, this is a very narrow section of the river. If it had been located further down the river where there are small weirs and the watercourse is broad, it would not cause such a serious problem. The proposed development, in its present location, would clearly block a fair proportion of the river and could create problems for other users. I am disappointed that at this stage the Maritime Services Board has not objected to the structure. I suppose there is provision for granting a marine licence to permit the anchoring of a large vessel or houseboat or similar watercraft, 386 387 but the only construction undertaken by the developer so far is in the form of pontoons, which are floating vessels. Structures are to be placed on these pontoons to provide accommodation. I am pleased that the Minister for Administrative Services and Assistant Minister for Transport 414 is at the table, for I know he understands the area, having previously been Minister for Water Resources. Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member has exhausted his time for speaking.

Explain scam Register entry to 1/87 notice.....Put Bob Carr letter here


This was a commercial venture and NSW Maritime approved it after two years of bitter dispute. The half completed vessel is shown above. It was later seized and destroyed from Victoria by the same NSW maritime officers. These officers collaborated with our solicitors and seized the smaller vessel. Together with Wakool Shire Council, they sold it to Captain Paddy Hogg (deceased) as part of our later divorce settlement. 

The Maritime Regional Manager at the time, was Captain John Hensford. Eventually, he defied the NSW Wakool council and approved construction of the commercial marine development. A year earlier, his officers issued us a license to moor the vessels on the opposite bank of the river.  The Victorian Goonawarra council did not object. They welcomed another commercial enterprise, Barkoona at the same time.

Bruce Baird is the father of Mike Baird, the current NSW Premier. Bruce was NSW Maritime Minister when maritime officers seized the vessels destroying the larger unfinished one and selling off the smaller one to cover their costs. They seized them from the Victorian bank after asking us to relocate them there. The local newspapers, in particular the Barham Bridge newspaper kept secret that Maritime had approved construction and that there was an Environmental Impact Statement provided to all authorities. There were about 100 reports over the four year period, mostly lies. 
The concluding report is shown below. If you follow the links provided above then you will conclude that it is entirely false.

Back then, I was married to Karen and we wanted to build geodesic dome homes on land and water. We bought two from Glencor Industries SA who sold them as kit homes. Our first attempt was a small single level kit followed by the large dome shape commercial houseboat. 

In 1986, Karen had written to apply for a mooring at Koondrook on the Victorian bank of the Murray River. There were 4 local houseboats at the time and Maritime officers told us that they had an allocation of 10 mooring sites in the area.

We submitted our houseboat plans to the NSW Maritime Authorities in 1986.  They provided Plan Approval No. 6106.  Later in 1987, they issued Occupational Licence WS 012. In 1988, Capt. Hensford, Regional Manager NSW Maritime Services Board approved construction of the commercial vessels. In 1989, he cancelled the licence and together with the Wakool Shire seized/destroyed/sold our two vessels. These were moored alongside the Barkoona and displayed a prominent for sale sign. There was interest from a buyer but another newly appointed Regional Manager warned him off the purchase.

Year 1985, had seen the arrival of a hire houseboat business (Shady Lady) and commercial cruise boat (Barkoona) followed in 1987. Victorian and NSW Councils approved of them. There was high demand for tourist accommodation particularly around the Barham District Servicemans Club. Wakool council opposed private moorings citing the lack of vessel waste facilities in the area. Kerang Shire did not oppose them. Neither council opposed commercial river development and NSW Maritime encouraged it under their charter.

Taken in 1988, this picture shows Shady Lady on the left (NSW). Our vessels are in the middle and Barkoona is on the right on the Victorian bank, however the river belongs to NSW. Only our vessels were required to have a Development Application.

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