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Monday, 2 December 1985
Page: 2646

Senator RICHARDSON —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the progress of the Parramatta Commonwealth offices project, given the lengthy delays which have occurred since it was first announced?

Senator GIETZELT —When the Government came to office it was alarmed to find that large amounts of money were being paid out of the Budget each year for privately rented premises which were being occupied by the Commonwealth. So in July 1983 it began the process of addressing this problem and of developing a higher level of public ownership of the buildings required to house government agencies and departments. Contracts have subsequently been signed for projects at Phillip St, Sydney, Fremantle, Devonport, Port Pirie, Parramatta and Rockhampton, with construction already under way on the first three that I have mentioned. It is expected that contract negotiations for Mackay will be completed early this month. Negotiations are proceeding with regard to Cairns, Dubbo and Wollongong. Subject to final agreement on the contract details, contracts should also be signed in respect of those projects. Projects at Devonport and Port Pirie are expected to be completed and the offices occupied in the current financial year.

With respect to the specific question that Senator Richardson asked of me, the Parramatta project is due to be completed in early 1988. The construction cost of the 55,000 square metres office building is estimated at $115.2m. The building will be the largest building to be constructed under the instalment purchase process which this Government has adopted. The project will be undertaken by the Leighton construction firm on Commonwealth-owned land in Parramatta. I remind Senator Richardson, as I am sure he appreciates, that the Prime Minister turned the first sod on 22 November 1985 and we hope to be in occupancy in 1988.