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Wednesday, 13 May 1981
Page: 2300


Mr McVEIGH (Minister for Housing and Construction) —by leave-Following a request from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure conducted an examination of alternative delivery systems for Commonwealth public works. The Expenditure Committee's report was tabled in this House last year. It contained conclusions and recommendations that addressed the need for flexibility, efficiency and accountability in relation to public works. The Committee concluded that:

(1) The choice of a particular delivery system for a particular project has to be made in the context of the circumstances of that project and hence is a matter for the judgment of administrators.

(2) The choice of delivery system for a project should remain with the organisation that has prime carriage for the planning, design and construction of public works.

(3) It is not practical to formulate guidelines for the selection of a particular delivery system.

(4) Since a government department or agency is responsible for the efficient administration of public works, that department or agency should always have overriding authority over project management companies and others on these works.

I am pleased to inform the House that the Government fully endorses these conclusions. The report went on to make three recommendations:

(1) The Department of Housing and Construction either include in its annual report or supply the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for inclusion in that Committee's general reports information relating to tender price, costs of rise and fall contract clauses, design alterations and other costs, and the particular delivery system used for each completed major capital work.

(2) The Department of Housing and Construction expedite the preparation of design and supervision costs for major public works and publish these costs in its annual reports.

(3) The Department of Housing and Construction assess the advantages and disadvantages of contractual project management and use this delivery system when circumstances permit its use.

I am also pleased to inform the House that the Government accepts these recommendations. Action is in hand to publish this information on tender price and other costs in the Department of Housing and Construction's 1980-81 annual report. It will cover major works completed during that year and will cover all projects referred to the Public Works Committee and those exempted from that Committee's scrutiny on the grounds of expediency. Works exempted on security grounds will not be covered. The Government has taken and will be taking other steps to enhance the efficiency, flexibility and accountability of the Commonwealth's works programs, particularly in relation to the works of statutory authorities. Amendments to the Public Works Committee Act will extend that Committee's scrutiny to cover many statutory authorities.

The Government has also introduced new public works procedures aimed at achieving more consistency and better value for money from the Commonwealth's works expenditures. The Department of Housing and Construction is working on the detailed arrangements to apply these procedures. These procedures will result in consistent conditions of contract for all Commonwealth works, including works of all statutory authorities. Those statutory authorities which are or will be subject to the Public Works Committee scrutiny under the proposed amendments will be required to consult with the Department of Housing and Construction on design and cost aspects to ensure that soundly based and consistent estimates of cost are prepared and presented to the Government and the Public Works Committee. The recommendations made by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, in conjunction with other initiatives the Government is taking, will in no small measure help to ensure that the Commonwealth receives value for money from its construction expenditures and that the Parliament, the Government and the public are better informed about those expenditures. Finally, I would like to congratulate and thank the Committee for this report. I commend the report to the House. I present the following paper.

Alternative Delivery Systems for Commonwealth Public Works-Ministerial statement, 13 May 1981.

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.