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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - This building is being erected for the Treasury. Last year £27,000 appeared upon the Estimates for the building, and £7,000 for the land. This£22,750 is intended to complete that portion of the building which is now in hand, and also to add another wing to it.

Senator Vardon - -What will be the total cost?

Senator PEARCE - About , £56,750. That will be the cost of the present building, and of the additional wing which has only just been commenced. Yesterday certain information was supplied to honorable senators in the form of a return which was asked for at the instance of Senator McColl. That return was laid on the table, and I intend to read it to the Committee. The questions put by the honorable senator, and the answers to them, are as follow -

1.   What was the estimated cost of the Treasury buildings now being erected by the Government? - The estimated cost of the building was £27,000.

2.   By whom were the plans and specifications prepared? - The Director-General of Works.

3.   What area in square feet do the buildings cover; what is the height and of how many stories are they? - The area is 10,000 square feet ; the height of the structure is 92 feet, including a basement and five (5) stories; the cubic measurement of the entire structure is 729,600 cubic feet.

4.   What amount of square feet of floor space is inside the building? - The floor space contained in the building is 41,000 square feet.

5.   What hasbeen the cost to date? - The cost of the building to date is £26,891 8s.10d.

6.   What amount is it estimated will be. required to complete the buildings? - The . estimated approximate amount required to complete the building is £3,100.

7.   When completed, what will be the total cost, setting out in detail the cost under the following items? - The estimated total cost of the building (exclusive of the purchase of steel triple treasury, but including contingent . structural work ; exclusive also of cost of supervision, &c.), when completed will be, approximately, £30,000, Which represents 9.8 pence per cubic foot. Itemized costs are : - Clerk of works, foreman, timekeeper, £625 ; clerical work, design, and supervision, £840 ; bricks and brickwork, £5,103; stone and stonework, £726 2S. 6d. ; timber and woodwork,£2,585 ; internal fittings, £3,065 15s.11d. ; reinforced concrete, £4,102; sewerage, £800; foundations, including concrete, £2,196.

8.   Were tenders called or offers invited for the construction of the building, or for any portion of the work? - Tenders were not invited for the construction of the building. The only portion of the construction of the building for which tenders were invited was for the reinforced concrete work. (Tenders and quotations were obtained, however, for various parts, accessories and materials.)

9.   If offers were submitted, from whom did they come ; were they for the whole work, or for portions of the work ; and what were the amounts specified in such offers or tenders, giving details? - Offers were invited from three (3) firms for the reinforced concrete work, and were received from two (2) firms. The offers covered only the reinforced concrete. The lower offer received was that of the Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Company Proprietary Limited, the tendered amount being £4,370.

10.   What time was allowed in the specifications to complete the building? - The period occupied by the construction of the premises was estimated by the Director-General of Works to be eighteen (18) months.

11.   When was the construction of the building commenced ? - Excavations were put in hand on 17th January, 191 1, but persistent rain delayed the beginning of actual construction of the building until about 1st April, 191 1.

12.   When is it expected to be completed? - It is anticipated that the building will be completed about 1st October next.

It may be noted that the State Public Works Department (Victoria) prepared an estimate of cost of constructing a building of about the same size as the structure now in question. Such estimate, presumably made on a " contract " basis, involved a greater cost per cubic foot than was contemplated in the estimate adopted by the Department of Home Affairs in connexion with the execution of the work by day labour.

The State Public Works Department's estimate was £27,000 for a gross Boor area of about 33,000 square feet. The estimate of the Department of Home Affairs was £27,000 for a gross floor area of 41,000 square feet. The building is costing about £3,000 more than the original estimate, accounted for by the general increase in the cost of building construction. for the purpose of further comparison, it may be mentioned that tenders have recently seen received by the Commonwealth for a large building in Adelaide, and the price of the lowest tender is 20 per cent, mure per cubic foot than the cost of the new offices in Melbourne. t do not think that the honorable senator will derive much satisfaction from that return. The portion of the building for which tenders were called has been constructed by day labour at less than the lowest tender, and although 8,000 square feet have been added to the space origina71 v contemplated, the building will be completed at a cost within .£3,000 of the Department's original estimate.

Senator Millen - The Minister of Defence is referring to a State building now?

Senator PEARCE - No. I am referring to a Commonwealth building. The stimate of the Department was ,£27,000 lor a floor area of 41,000 square feet, and 1 he State Department's estimate for constructing a building of about the same size, presumably on a " contract " basis, involved a greater cost per cubic foot than was contemplated in the estimate of the Department of Home Affairs under the day-labour system. The estimate of the Department of Home Affairs for erecting a building of 33,000 square feet was £27,000, and the actual cost of completing a building which contains 41,000 square feet has been ,£30,000. I contend that in this case, which has been pointed to as une of the failures of the day-labour system, a comparison with similar work performed by contract in a neighbouring State, will show that a saving of 20 per cent, has been effected, and that the cost of the building has been kept well within the Department's original estimate. So that my honorable friends opposite will get no change out of that.

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