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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3829

Mr WEST (Minister for Hous- ing and Construction)(10.42) —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: Construction of a new wharf and seamanship school at HMAS Cerberus, Crib Point, Victoria.

As I have said, the proposed work now before the House is for the construction of a new wharf and new seamanship school at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria. It was first referred to the Public Works Committee on 22 September 1986. The proposed work is the first stage in redeveloping HMAS Cerberus-the Royal Australian Navy's principal training establishment. The existing facilities are considered unsatisfactory for the operation and training activities of the seamanship school.

Some of the school's buildings were constructed about 60 years ago while others were only meant to provide temporary accommodation. They are now in a sub-standard condition. The timber wharves, which were originally built in 1920, were condemned in 1981 as structurally unsafe. An inlet channel, Hann's Inlet, and the turning basin at the wharves require dredging. This has not been done since 1970 and patrol boats are unable to manoeuvre at low tide.

Because the proposed work will involve the demolition of the existing buildings and structures at the school, temporary accommodation will have to be provided. The new seamanship school, wharf, marine and boat ramp will then be constructed. As well, Hann's Inlet will be dredged and the spoil disposed while piles mar-king the channel will be repaired. The work also includes the provision of associated engineering services. The estimated cost of all work is $14.1m in November 1986 prices. This cost represents the indexed equivalent of the $13.5m at July 1986 prices, which was originally referred to the Public Works Committee. When the House first referred the proposal to the Committee, the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Beale) indicated that he misunderstood some aspects.

Mr Beale —No, I didn't. I said that you did not express it properly.

Mr WEST —Yes, he did. I ask him just to listen and then he will clearly understand where his reasoning was deficient. The honourable member for Deakin considered that there had been a $400,000 blow-out in the cost and this is the explanation which gave rise to that misapprehension. The exact opposite is the case. There has been a net reduction of $400,000 in the estimated cost of the proposal. The honourable member for Deakin quoted an estimate of $13.9m for the work from the explanations for estimates of expenditure for 1986-87. But this $13.9m was in April 1986 prices as required for Budget purposes. My referral speech included an updated estimate of $13.5 million in July 1986 prices. That was the later figure. As such, a net saving of $400,000 has been achieved by offsetting increases in the costs of construction by real reductions to the scope of the work. Further savings were achieved by planning to proceed concurrently with the seamanship school and the wharf.

The honourable member for Deakin also commented that only $100,000 would be spent this financial year. But I said in my referral speech that construction will not commence until July 1987. Hence there will be no expenditure this financial year. I understand that the honourable member for Deakin was again quoting from the explanations for the Estimates which were based on early planning requirements during the Budget formulation period. It is anticipated that tenders will be invited in April next year, contracts awarded in June 1987, and construction completed by December 1989. Consultants will be engaged to undertake about 50 per cent of the design and project documentation and that is a fair mix between the private and the public sectors.

Mr Beale —What do you think a fair mix is?

Mr WEST —The honourable member for Deakin appears to believe that a major, centralised government construction authority, such as the Department of Housing and Construction, can proceed entirely without any in-house engineering designers at all, which is clearly impossible. Let me repeat, so that he will clearly understand, that private consultants will be engaged to undertake about 50 per cent of the design and project documentation. Construction is to be contracted to private enterprise in accordance with normal Department of Housing and Construction practice. About 100 people will be employed on the work peaking, at about 250 people. I thank the Committee for its prompt examination of this proposal and for its support. I commend the motion to the House.