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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2311

Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (12:31): by leave—On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present Referrals made May to November 2012.

In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper.

Ms LIVERMORE: This report deals with four referrals, with a total estimated total cost of $405.22 million. It also reports on a change to budget and time line for a CSIRO project that was originally considered by the committee in 2008. The CSIRO's Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP, radio telescope project was originally referred to the committee in 2008. The budget was $111 million and the scope was for up to 36 parabolic antennas, each with phased array feed receivers, or PAFs. The cost of the project is now $188 million. This is partially due to cost overruns but also allows CSIRO to fulfil the full scope of the project.

CSIRO accepted that its original costings had significant deficiencies, including the absence of any contingency for the research and development of the PAFs, and inadequate estimates of the costs of delivering complex infrastructure in a remote location. CSIRO stated that it has addressed these issues by implementing new internal risk and cost assessment processes. The committee acknowledges and approves the extension to budget and time line, and expects CSIRO to provide updates throughout the remainder of the project.

The first inquiry I will address examined the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, or ANSTO, Nuclear Medicine Project. The purpose of the project is to process Molybdenum-99, called Mo-99, for Australian hospitals and to process waste by-products into a synthetic rock material called Synroc. The overall project cost is $168.8 million. The project will allow Australia to increase its production of Mo-99 as global production decreases and to treat waste from nuclear medicine production. The committee's visit to Lucas Heights provided insight into Australia's innovation and production of nuclear medicine. The committee acknowledges ANSTO's commitment to ongoing consultation with the local council, the Sutherland Shire Council. The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The second inquiry examined the Australian Federal Police, or the AFP, proposed new forensic facility at Majura, ACT. The purpose of the facility is to provide the AFP with forensic and technical intelligence operations capabilities for the next 20 years. The overall project cost is $106 million. The AFP's current forensic science and technical intelligence facility at Weston has many constraints. The new facility will enable more efficient business processes and increase the capabilities of the AFP. The committee commends the AFP for its clear, comprehensive, accurate and succinct presentation of information throughout the inquiry. The AFP set a high standard for future proponent agencies. The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The third inquiry I will address examined the Australian War Memorial redevelopment of the First World War galleries. The redevelopment will be completed before the Anzac centenary from 2014 to 2018. The overall project cost is $32.52 million. The redevelopment will address deficiencies in the current facilities to enhance visitors' experience of the galleries and understanding of the First World War. The memorial has consulted with the appropriate stakeholders for the project. The committee is satisfied with the project and recommends that it proceed.

The last inquiry I will address today concerns the proposed work at the new National Archives Preservation Facility for the National Archives of Australia, or the NAA, at Mitchell in the ACT. The committee reported on this inquiry in November 2012 and declined to recommend expediency. The committee reopened the inquiry and held a third public hearing on 15 February this year with the NAA and the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Given that this project has been in development for many years, the committee is unimpressed that the NAA was not able to adequately explain the precommitment lease, or PCL, funding model and did not provide comparative figures until asked. The provision of this information at the beginning of the inquiry would have allowed the committee to make a determination on whether paying for the fit-out component up-front would provide better value for money than the PCL option.

Ultimately, the NAA relied on the Department of Finance and Deregulation to substantiate the claims that the decision to pursue a PCL funding model was a decision of the Australian government, that the PCL model was a valid project delivery model and that the comparative costs were the same. While the NAA did include this information, it was not sufficiently emphasised or explained. This is the responsibility of the proponent agency.

Given that the Australian government has declined to provide upfront funding for the fit-out, the Department of Finance and Deregulation and the NAA have reassured the committee that the comparative costs are the same. The committee has reconsidered the proposed funding model. The committee is now of the view that value for money has been demonstrated. As the need for the project has already been established, the committee is now in a position to recommend expediency.

This report contained examples of proponent agencies acquitting their responsibilities to an exceptional standard. I particularly praise the Australian Federal Police and the Australian War Memorial for their provision of clear and comprehensive written and oral evidence. The committee encourages future proponent agencies to aim to meet a similar standard throughout inquiries. I would like to thank members and senators for their work in relation to these inquiries, along with, of course, the secretariat. I commend the report to the House.