Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Public Works Committee; Report
On behalf of the Standing Committee on Public Works I present the second report for 2010 of the committee entitled Report 2/2010: Referrals made February to March 2010.
Ordered that the report be made a parliamentary paper.
by leave—This report addresses five works spread across four states and territories with a total estimated cost of $240 million. In every case the committee has recommended that the House of Representatives agree to the works proceeding. The works in this report are the construction of a Centre for Accelerator Science and extensions to the Bragg Institute and OPAL reactor buildings for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at an estimated cost of $62.5 million; fit-out of new leased premises for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency at the New Acton Nishi building in Canberra city at an estimated cost of $20.5 million; defence housing at Voyager Point, Liverpool in New South Wales by Defence Housing Australia at an estimated cost of $45.1 million; defence housing at Muirhead, Darwin in the Northern Territory by Defence Housing Australia at an estimated cost of $43.5 million; and construction of the Pawsey High Performance Computing Centre for Square Kilometre Array Science in Kensington in Western Australia by the CSIRO at an estimated cost of $66 million.
Turning first to Defence Housing Australia, the committee inquired into two projects that will provide new houses for members of the ADF. They will also provide new vacant building lots for private homes. The committee commends Defence Housing Australia for helping to address the shortage of residential land in Australian cities. DHA has also developed a new ‘troppo house’ designed for tropical Australia which will actively promote sustainable building skills in Darwin trades. The committee commends this.
The committee is still concerned by DHA’s approach to housing for people with disabilities. The report discusses how DHA can reverse the unfounded perception that such housing is inferior or substandard. Indeed, such housing is valuable and desirable because it breaks down physical barriers within homes and can be aesthetically pleasing. While only a small percentage of defence personnel directly require accessible housing, DHA should be considering building housing that is appropriate for the entire life cycle, allowing elderly family members to visit, for instance.
The committee also considered an office fit-out for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in Canberra. Whilst the committee was not inquiring into the enveloping building, many submissions to the inquiry concerned the heritage and visual impact the building would have. The committee thanks those submitters for their contribution to the inquiry. Regarding the fit-out itself, the committee is pleased by its considerable energy saving and environmentally sustainable features. The committee commends the department for securing a fit-out that will be at the leading edge of office accommodation in Australia.
The committee also considered two science projects. Each will make a significant contribution to Australia’s research heft across an impressive range of fields. In the case of the Pawsey centre, the CSIRO is proposing to create a supercomputer facility in Perth. It would be available for the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope if Australia is chosen and, in any case, will be available on merit basis for research across Australia. As for ANSTO, the new Centre for Accelerator Science will significantly boost Australia’s research capacity and build on ANSTO’s specialised expertise in particle accelerators. The committee was again impressed by the diverse range of research areas this will support and commends ANSTO for its recent implementation of a 45-year plan to ensure sound strategic planning.
This report traverses varied ground and the committee thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to inspect the varied projects being undertaken by Commonwealth agencies. I note that the committee has discussed some areas needing improvement, particularly risk management and costings. On this subject, I remind agencies that the committee has recently updated its manual of procedures. I strongly encourage all agencies to consult it as soon as possible so as to be up to speed with the detail the committee now expects in submissions.
I thank members and senators for their work in relation to these inquiries. I particularly thank the secretary of the committee, Sharon Bryant; inquiry secretary, Siobhan Leyne; senior research officer, Thomas Gregory; and Jazmine Rakic and Shaun Rowe. The committee secretariat serves the committee well. I commend this report to the House.