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Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Page: 4107

Mr PRICE (9:01 AM) —On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the first report for 2010 of the committee relating to the proposed fit-out of new premises for the Australian Taxation Office at 735 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Order that the report be made a parliamentary paper.

Mr PRICE —by leave—This report addresses only one work, referred to the committee in February this year. The project has an estimated cost of $50.9 million, and the committee recommends that the House of Representatives agree to the works proceeding as proposed.

This report is somewhat more slender than usual Public Works Committee reports. However, that should not be interpreted as a want of substance. The committee was very impressed by the proposal made by the ATO, and the report is glowing about the quality of the office accommodation which will be built for ATO employees in the Melbourne CBD. I might say that the thrift in our report is inversely proportional to the substantial, thorough and carefully planned proposal that was put to the committee. I should also like to note a few impressive features of that proposal.

The House would be aware that the Department of Finance and Deregulation has formulated Property Management Guidelines for Commonwealth agencies. Perhaps the aspect of the guidelines with the greatest practical implication for Commonwealth workplaces is the occupational density target, which applies to all new Commonwealth premises of more than 500 square metres. This target stipulates that there should be no more than an average of 16 square metres of usable office area per occupied workpoint.

The ATO expects to meet this target, despite the fact that it must provide substantial office space that is only used for part of the year, when the seasonal workforce is employed for processing tax returns. It has managed to ensure that, even when a number of workpoints are unoccupied, it will still have an average of less than 16 square metres per occupied workpoint. This is thanks to innovative office design, and the ATO should be commended for its strong efforts in meeting the target.

This fit-out, and the building in which it will be housed, will tread lightly on the earth. The report outlines the environmentally sustainable measures being incorporated into the base building, and the committee is impressed with the potential contribution this will make to our sustainable future. These measures include a tri-generation power plant, as well as a precinct wide approach to building services, to enable future measures such as blackwater treatment on site.

I would like to thank members and senators for their work in relation to this inquiry. I would particularly like to thank the secretariat: Secretary James Catchpole, who is no longer with us, Siobhan Leyne, Thomas Gregory, Jazmine Rakic and Shaun Rowe. Our committee is well served by its keen, enthusiastic and dedicated secretariat. I commend the report to the House.

The SPEAKER —I thank the Chief Government Whip. He mentioned that James Catchpole is no longer with us. He is on secondment with another department, but he is also recovering from an unfortunate traffic accident, and I understand he is recovering well.