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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23653

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (4:49 PM) —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 respecified Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island.

The Department of Finance and Administration proposes to construct a respecified purpose-built immigration reception and processing centre on Christmas Island. On 21 March 2002, the House of Representatives passed a motion agreeing that the initial Christmas Island immigration reception and processing centre project proceed without referral to the Public Works Committee, due to the urgency of the project. The initial project was expected to include the construction of a facility for 1,200 residents.

The work completed under the original contract, primarily carried out by Walter Construction Group, included a concept design for a facility for 1,200 residents, including a range of options; construction of a 350-person village to accommodate construction workers; bulk earthworks; and associated works, such as fencing and site safety measures. There has also been external infrastructure installed to support the facility, including the construction of a new port facility, staff housing, and electricity and water mains connecting the site to Christmas Island central facilities.

In February this year the government announced that, due to the success of the government's unauthorised arrivals deterrence policy, the scope of the project would be reduced. In light of the less urgent time line for the completion of the facility and the reduced and changed scope of the works, further work on the initial project and the contract with Walter Construction Group was terminated. The government now proposes a new project, which involves revised specifications in relation to the precise facilities to be provided and the project delivery mechanism to be used.

The size of the facility is to be reduced from 1,200 beds to 800 beds, with both purpose-designed and contingency accommodation. Further, the project delivery time has been increased and the delivery methodology amended from fast track to a traditional delivery method involving fixed price tenders based on a detailed design developed to meet specifications from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

The scope of works for this respecified project will involve: the design of the facility based on the brief for the new facility; completion of platforms to accommodate the buildings; site works and fencing; construction of the required accommodation and central facilities; and associated information technology, security systems and necessary infrastructure. The total estimated capital cost of the proposed works is $276.2 million, which includes $197.7 million for the Department of Finance and Administration to manage and meet the cost incurred in delivering the project from 19 February 2003 to completion. The balance of funding of $78.5 million was allocated to the original immigration reception and processing centre that was given parliamentary authority to proceed on 21 March 2002.

In its report the Public Works Committee has recommended that this project should proceed subject to its recommendations. The Department of Finance and Administration accepts the recommendations of the committee. Subject to parliamentary approval, main works construction is scheduled to start in the third quarter of next year, with completion expected in the first quarter of 2006. On behalf of the government, I would like to thank the committee for its support. I commend the motion to the House.

Question agreed to.