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Thursday, 13 April 2000
Page: 15906

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (NaN:00:00) —I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to Parliament: Proposed ABC Sydney Accommodation Project, Ultimo, NSW.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation proposes to consolidate its television accommodation in Sydney in a way that meets its organisational and strategic objectives. At one level, the needs of the ABC for the project relate to particular problems with the current television accommodation at Gore Hill. At another level, the project is part of the response by the ABC to the changing media environment.

This proposal involves development of the vacant southern portion of the Ultimo site of the ABC, adjacent to its current building in Harris Street, together with adaptation of the existing building and disposal of the majority of the Gore Hill site. It would then be proposed that the Lanceley Place portion of the Gore Hill property be retained and redeveloped through a sequence of minor works.

Much of the existing television accommodation at Gore Hill is inadequate. It is in need of significant refurbishment and maintenance, as it does not meet basic requirements of television accommodation of being safe, functional and economical and providing a satisfactory environment for creative work. Ad hoc development over the past 45 years has resulted in 24 separate buildings, causing disadvantages in terms of efficiencies related to communications, space and functional relationships within the ABC. The proposed development will replace inadequate Gore Hill buildings and facilities with accommodation at Ultimo that is up to date, functional, safe, compliant and designed to maximise efficiency, output and creativity.

The broadcasting industry is currently undergoing a major transformation with the advent of digital broadcasting. This project will provide the ABC with the facilities required for digital production and transmission, including studios suitable for both wide-screen standard definition television and high definition television production. The Ultimo building will house current television, radio and online staff and facilities and will enable cross-media production.

The estimated out-turn cost of the proposal is $109.5 million. With three-quarters of the Gore Hill land available for sale, revenue potential for application of the digital conversion program of the ABC will be maximised. Subject to parliamentary approval, construction will commence in mid-2000 with completion and occupancy two years later. In its report, the committee has recommended that this project proceed. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation welcomes the support for the Sydney accommodation proposal expressed by the committee and agrees with its specific recommendations, which will be implemented as appropriate throughout the course of the project.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the committee for its support. I commend the motion to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.