House debates

Wednesday, 10 June 2020


Public Works Committee; Report

4:24 pm

Photo of John McVeighJohn McVeigh (Groom, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present Report 3 2020: referrals made November 2019 and February 2020.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

by leave—Report 3 considers three projects referred to the committee in November 2019 and February 2020. The total value of the proposed works for the projects was $455 million, with the projects to be undertaken across Australia. The Department of Defence sought approval to proceed with two projects: the Land 121 Stage 5B Facilities Project, valued at $183 million, and the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Facilities Program Stage 1, valued at $235 million. Additionally, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority sought approval to proceed with the critical safety works for the continued safe operation of the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef's Reef HQ project, valued at $26.9 million.

As part of its statutory role under the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the committee scrutinised each project, considering the purpose of the work and its suitability; the need for the work; whether the money expended is cost-effective; whether any revenue is generated; and the present and prospective value of the works. Under the current circumstances, the committee was of course unable to travel to each of these locations and inspect the proposed works in person, so it undertook detailed scrutiny via presentations from the proponent entities. In each case, the committee recommended that it is expedient that the works are carried out.

I would like to acknowledge that during the last couple of months the public works committee has, as I've outlined, continued its important scrutiny, at a higher-than-usual level. I would like to thank committee members for prioritising the work of the committee over this time, ensuring that projects were able to be considered and commenced without little impact. The committee recognised the importance of public works projects in communities right across Australia and wanted to have a role in assisting contractors and local subcontractors to continue to plan for ongoing work.

I'd also like to thank the departments who worked with the committee for responding so quickly to conducting these hearings remotely. The committee appreciated the presentation of virtual inspections employing all sorts of technology, which gave the committee a clear understanding of the proposed works and their scope. While the committee will continue to undertake its work in this manner for now, it does look forward to, and hopes to get back to, conducting inspections and hearings onsite as soon as is feasible, therefore making direct contact with proponent entities. As always, on behalf of the committee I express its sincere appreciation to the secretariat for their sterling efforts in arranging our programs and hearings in this manner over recent months.

So far in 2020 the committee has scrutinised and recommended parliamentary approval of more than $1.9 billion in expenditure on major public works projects. This figure represents a significant investment in the Australian community, as, ultimately, expenditure on public works projects will flow to contractors and subcontractors right across the nation, keeping Australians in much-needed jobs during this extraordinary time. I commend the report to the House.