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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9068


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (12:03): On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the committee's fourth report of 2012 and referrals made in 2012 relating to the proposed integrated fit-out of new leased premises for the Australian Taxation Office at the site known as 913 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill, Victoria; the development and construction of housing for Defence members and their families at Lindfield, New South Wales; and the development and construction of housing for Defence members and their families at Weston Creek, ACT.

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

Ms SAFFIN: by leave—This report deals with three inquiries with a total estimated cost of $277 million. In each case, the committee recommends that the House of Representatives agree to the works proceeding.

The first inquiry examined the Australian Taxation Office's proposal for the integrated fit-out of new leased premises at the site known as 913 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill, Victoria. The key objective of the project is to provide an office fit-out that meets at least a 4.5-star rating in the National Australian Built Environmental Ratings Scheme, or NABERS, and other Commonwealth lease requirements for the 1,292 ATO staff located in Box Hill. The office accommodation will be located in a proposed building that has been designed to meet a five-star NABERS energy rating and a five-star Green Building Council of Australia rating.

The ATO has liaised with the developers of this proposed building to incorporate the agency's requirements into the building's design. The building will provide 19,100 square metres of office accommodation and high-quality facilities for the ATO. It is close to the existing ATO Box Hill building, which cannot be upgraded to meet the agency's needs. This proposal allows the ATO to update its office accommodation while retaining a presence in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. They were two of the questions that the committee inquired into when it had the public inquiry there. The committee is satisfied that the ATO office has fully considered all feasible options for the ongoing provision of office accommodation in Box Hill and that the selected option is a practical, long-term solution that represents value for money for the Commonwealth.

I move to speak to the second inquiry of this report. Defence Housing Australia seeks approval for the proposed development and construction of housing for Defence members and their families at Lindfield, New South Wales.

The key objective of the project is to assist in reducing the proportion of Defence families residing in private rental accommodation in Sydney to below the target of 15 per cent. The current proportion of families in private rental accommodation in Sydney is 35.9 per cent.

Defence Housing Australia plans to develop road and civil infrastructure on a site of approximately 13.8 hectares, adjacent to the Lane Cove National Park. Defence Housing Australia then intends to construct 345 dwellings for an integrated residential community for Defence and other families, with 173 houses for Defence use.

One of the key issues for this project was the single access road to the development site. The committee was concerned that this road could become obstructed during a bushfire, preventing evacuation from the site. It is an area surrounded by a national park but in suburban Sydney. However, the committee was assured by Defence Housing Australia that they are developing and building on the Lindfield site within the relevant regulations. Evidence was also given to the committee that the site has been approved by the Rural Fire Service.

The third inquiry in this report examined another Defence Housing Australia project, the proposed development and construction of housing for Defence members and their families at Weston Creek, here in the ACT. The member for Mallee was acting chair for this inquiry and I thank him for doing that.

The key objective of the project is to maintain the proportion of Defence families residing in private rental accommodation in the ACT under the target of 15 per cent. The current proportion of families in private rental accommodation in the ACT is 13 per cent.

Defence Housing Australia plans to develop road and civil infrastructure for 73 single dwelling lots and three multi-unit sites on a site of approximately 8.3 hectares. Defence Housing Australia then intends to construct 50 dwellings for Defence use.

One of the key issues for this project was community consultation. The committee received correspondence from several stakeholders who raised concerns with Defence Housing Australia's consultation on this project.

The committee has subsequently recommended that Defence Housing Australia 'engage in widespread, active and ongoing consultation with all relevant stakeholders that are likely to be directly or indirectly impacted by any proposed development, irrespective of the stage of the town planning process'.

The committee suggests that Defence Housing Australia closely monitor feedback in current and future consultation processes and respond immediately to any concerns raised by local stakeholders. We all know that you cannot always satisfy everything that is raised by community members, but there has to be an immediate and engaged response to them.

The committee notes that, in other projects, Defence Housing Australia has demonstrated effective stakeholder consultation and encourages it to use the lessons learnt from this project to develop clear and comprehensive consultation strategies for all future projects.

In closing, I want to thank the members of the committee for their very active participation and also my deputy, the honourable member for Mallee. I also thank the secretariat that services the Public Works Committee, and there are two of them sitting here: Anthony Overs and Fiona Gardner. But I thank the whole secretariat for their very good work and the service they provide to the committee in turning these reports around in a timely fashion, because we have a very busy program and it can be difficult to get through all the work. I commend the report to the House.