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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3210


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (10:53): On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the second report of 2013, relating to referrals made February to April 2013, and I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

Ms LIVERMORE: This report deals with eight referrals, with an estimated total cost of $1.1 billion. It also reports on a change to budget and time line for a project that was originally considered by the committee in 2012.

The proposed fit-out of the Commonwealth parliamentary offices at 1 Bligh Street in Sydney was originally referred to the committee in June 2012. The original cost estimate was $21 million and it has since risen to $25.45 million. Much of the cost overrun was due to security and IT costs being higher than anticipated. The project has also been delayed by six months.

The Department of Finance and Deregulation acknowledged that it brought the project to the committee at a very early stage in the design and did not adequately incorporate this risk into the contingency and cost estimate for the project.

The committee acknowledges and approves the extension to budget and timeline.

The first inquiry I will address examined the construction of a new post-entry quarantine facility at Mickleham, Victoria. The project cost is $293.1 million.

The project will replace a number of ageing post-entry quarantine facilities with a single, consolidated facility on the outskirts of Melbourne. The inquiry attracted significant interest from industry stakeholders. In particular, the avian sector raised concerns with regard to biosecurity at the proposed avian facility. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry established an expert advisory group to address these concerns. After receiving the report of the expert advisory group, the committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The second inquiry I will address examined the AIR 9000 Phase 8 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo facilities project. The project cost is $201.3 million.

The project will support the operational, training and maintenance needs for the new Seahawk Romeo helicopters, primarily at HMAS Albatross, at Nowra, New South Wales, and also at HMAS Stirling, at Rockingham, Western Australia. The aircraft have a higher security classification than other aircraft, and require more secure facilities.

The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The next two inquiries were conducted together. They were the Air Warfare Destroyer Ship, or AWD, sustainment facilities at Garden Island, Randwick Barracks and HMAS Watson, Sydney, New South Wales; and the landing helicopter dock ship, or LHD, sustainment facilities at Garden Island and Randwick Barracks, Sydney, New South Wales. The projects will cost $109.9 million and $60.3 million respectively.

The projects will provide training, operational and maintenance facilities for the new AWD and LHD ships. The LHDs will be the largest class of ship that the Royal Australian Navy has ever operated. There was some community concern over the visual impact of the proposed facilities at Randwick Barracks and HMAS Watson, which the Department of Defence has addressed. The committee was concerned that the hammerhead crane at Garden Island, which is no longer in use, costs $1 million per year to maintain and has caused four work health and safety incidents. Its removal is subject to an EPBC Act referral.

The committee is satisfied with both projects and recommends that they proceed.

The fifth inquiry I will address examined the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) Human Protection Performance Division (HPPD) security and facilities upgrade, at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Victoria. The project cost is $41.1 million.

The project will rectify inadequacies in existing facilities at Fishermans Bend and enhance site security. The committee acknowledges that the Human Protection Performance Division needs to complete this project to ensure it has adequate capability as a division within DSTO. The project will co-locate all staff in the Human Protection Performance Division in one building at Fishermans Bend.

The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The sixth inquiry I will address examined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Melbourne accommodation project, Southbank, Victoria. The project cost is $176.4 million.

The project will consolidate all Melbourne-based television production and administrative functions in a new building, which will be integrated with the existing ABC Centre at Southbank. The committee acknowledges that co-locating staff will provide financial and administrative savings, and will enable formal collaboration and increased casual interaction.

The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The seventh inquiry I will address examined the infrastructure and upgrade works to establish a regional processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. The project cost is $171.69 million.

The project will construct a permanent regional processing centre to replace the existing temporary centre. The permanent centre will have the capacity to accommodate 600 transferees and 200 staff. It will be designed to meet Department of Immigration and Citizenship standards for immigration accommodation. The committee is of the opinion that the department has designed the centre to suit the climate of Manus Island and to meet the needs of transferees.

The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

The final inquiry I will address examined the Multi-National Base Tarin Kot Remediation Project, in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. The project cost is $47.2 million. The base will close by the end of 2013, and the Department of Defence is required to remediate the base to ensure it is suitable for future Afghan use. The project will transfer suitable infrastructure and facilities to the Afghanistan National Security Force, deconstruct all other infrastructure and facilities, and remediate the site prior to its return to Afghan control. The committee is satisfied with this project and recommends that it proceed.

I would like to thank all members and senators on the committee for their work in relation to these inquiries. As members would guess from that long list of projects in the report, it has been a very busy time for the committee and I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of all members and senators to say thank you to the secretariat, who have been working very, very hard to enable us to have these hearings and to report to the parliament in a very timely way. I commend the report to the House.