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Wednesday, 3 June 1987
Page: 3873

Mr ANDREW(12.11) —The honourable member for O'Connor (Mr Tuckey) and the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), with their years in various shadow ministries, have rightly expressed concern about whether the Aviation Training College ought to be located in Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra. As the only member of the Public Works Committee currently in the chamber I make an additional comment or two on the tabling of this report.

The Public Works Committee looked at the possibility of refurbishing Henty House in Melbourne and inspected Henty House. The Public Works Committee is concerned principally with the location of a Canberra site. However, the area of concern I most want to bring to the attention of the Government and the House is that the Public Works Committee, having visited both the Pialligo site and the Watson High School site, recommends in this report that we proceed with the Watson High School site. Our concern is that the cost of refurbishing the Watson High School site, excluding the simulator, is estimated to be $6.66m. No matter where the college is located the cost of the simulator building will be a constant $2.45m. That cost will apply whether the college is built at Pialligo or is located on the present Watson High School site. I was astonished and the Committee was concerned-I stress this on behalf of the Committee-that the cost of an all new building at Pialligo, including heavy footings necessary because of the flood prone nature of the site, without the simulator, was $8.75m; and the cost of refurbishing Watson High School is estimated to be $6.66m. The Public Works Committee recommendation and the Minister's recommendation to the House are based clearly on the Watson High site. But the simulator cost is constant. It is astonishing that we can spend $6.66m refurbishing an existing learning facility to continue to use it as a learning facility. One would imagine that the Watson High School site was an industrial site and that we were demolishing the buildings-totally dismantling them. In fact, Watson High is a modern cream brick education facility which any institution-a technical and further education institution, a civil aviation body or a high school-would be pleased to use.

I have to request that the Department of Housing and Construction look again at the cost it has estimated for the refurbishing of Watson High School. I also request the Department of Aviation to consider again its demands for a training facility. I restate that there is an existing learning facility. It is difficult to imagine how $6.66m could be spent refurbishing a portion of it for an aviation training college. The Minister for Aviation (Mr Peter Morris) has said, using an analogy appropriate to the debate and appropriate to aviation, that the task of the Opposition had been in some way to thwart the intention of the Government and he constantly used the word `stall'. To take that analogy one step further, I say as a member of the Opposition that the economy of this nation is currently in a spin and what we need most is someone who is prepared to apply opposite rudder and push the stick forward. Continuing the analogy, we say we will continue to spin unless we prune government expenditure. Clearly we should question how the expenditure of $6.66m can be justified to create a learning facility out of an existing, modern and upgraded learning facility.

Question resolved in the affirmative.