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Tuesday, 25 November 2003
Page: 22740

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (4:24 PM) —I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, and by reason of the urgent nature of the work, it is expedient that the following proposed work be carried out without having been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: the Australian Pavilion at the 2005 Aichi World Exposition.

A proposal to proceed with a construction project without referral to the Public Works Committee is not common, because the government supports and endorses the role of the committee and appreciates the value that the committee adds to projects. However, there are some instances where referral to the committee is just not feasible. The government has decided that, given the urgent need to meet time frames set by the Japanese Expo authorities, it is not feasible to refer the construction of the fit-out of the Australian pavilion to the committee.

On 16 July this year, the Prime Minister advised Japan that Australia would participate in the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, from 25 March 2005 to 25 September 2005. The 2005 Aichi Expo will be the first World Expo since Hanover, Germany, in 2000 in which Australia has participated. Australia's participation is being funded by the Australian government, but contributions may also be made by state governments and through corporate sponsorship. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has portfolio responsibility for this project and will manage Australia's presence at the expo. The Australian pavilion is expected to be a popular attraction at the Expo, given its good location and Australia's high profile and popularity in Japan. It is expected that up to 20 per cent of the planned 15 million Expo visitors will visit the Australian pavilion.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade must submit all building plans to the Japanese Expo authorities by 15 January next year. In order to meet this tight time frame, the department called for tenders for the design, construction, fit-out and maintenance of the pavilion on 27 September 2003. Tenders closed on 17 November this year and, subject to parliamentary approval, it is hoped that a decision on a preferred tenderer will be made by Christmas. All work is to be completed and ready for use by 10 March 2005.

Expo authorities are constructing the building shells and are expected to hand over the Australian building on 15 September 2004. The limited amount of parliamentary time available means the Public Works Committee would not be in a position to report on this proposal to allow for the building plans to be submitted on time. Any undue delay could jeopardise a successful Australian display and have a negative impact on wider perceptions of Australia. This would have a detrimental effect on bilateral relationships. Host countries place great store in securing timely and successful participation by other countries.

The Public Works Committee has advised the government that it recognises the urgency of the proposed works and supports this motion. It has also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a further briefing on the proposed works when the design and cost of the project have been determined. The budget for the design, construction and maintenance of the pavilion fit-out and external exhibit facades is in the range of $8 million to $10 million. I commend this motion to the House.

Question agreed to.