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Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 11811

Mr GRAY (BrandSpecial Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity and Special Minister of State) (10:31): I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to parliament: Contamination Remediation works, Former Fire Training Area, RAAF Base Williams, Point Cook, Victoria.

RAAF Base Williams, Point Cook, Victoria covers an area of approximately 344 hectares, part of which borders Port Phillip Bay. It is currently an operating airfield used mostly by civilian aircraft. An area of Point Cook that was formerly used for firefighting training has been identified as a source of contamination. Firefighting training at the site required the use of a range of flammable chemicals to ignite and extinguish old aircraft. A number of known carcinogens and other contaminants toxic to humans and the environment have been identified as present in the soil and discharging via groundwater into Port Phillip Bay. Remediation is required to ensure the protection of human health, and to improve the quality of the groundwater and the Port Phillip Bay marine environment. This can only be achieved by reducing the contaminant concentrations entering the groundwater.

The estimated outturn cost of the proposed work is $27.3 million plus GST. In its report the Public Works Committee has recommended that these works proceed subject to the recommendations of the committee. The Department of Defence accepts the recommendations to proceed with the works. Defence accepts in principle the recommendations to develop and maintain a publicly available website containing information regarding contamination on the Defence estate. Defence will consider the best form that information regarding contaminated sites can be made available to the wider public via the internet. Subject to parliamentary approval, the works contractor will be engaged in December 2011, with the works expected to occur between February 2012 and April 2013. On behalf of the government I would like to thank the committee for its support and I commend the motion to the House.

Question agreed to.