Senate debates

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Questions without Notice: Additional Answers

Defence Facilities: Chemical Contamination

3:02 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I seek to provide some further information to a question asked of me by Senator Rhiannon in question time yesterday. I've advised Senator Rhiannon of this additional information. Senator Rhiannon asked a question about the Defence contractor Aurecon engaging in a summit in relation to PFAS contamination. I note, for the record, that there were a number of errors in the question that Senator Rhiannon asked. Firstly, Aurecon Australia is engaged as the lead consultant for PFAS investigations at HMAS Albatross and HMAS Cerberus only, not RAAF Base Williamtown, as Senator Rhiannon stated. That environmental investigation at Williamtown was undertaken by AECOM.

Defence understands that the individual to whom Senator Rhiannon referred in her question yesterday was an employee of Aurecon New Zealand who presented at a summit that was hosted by the Victorian EPA in April of this year. That summit was attended by EPAs from Australia and New Zealand.

I note for the record that, in relation to contracting, a number of companies that do work for Defence are multidisciplinary firms. They have a diverse range of in-house capabilities, such as project management, environmental management, heritage cost planning and airfield pavement design. Defence has approximately 150 capital facilities projects under way in various stages of the project life cycle. It's not uncommon for companies to provide many different service on a number of different projects at the same time. However, it is unusual or rare for one company to provide more than one service on one project. Defence maintains a due diligence client side project management function, including the role of managing the project manager contract administrator. That role is Defence's agent for further contract administration of other project consultants and contractors. In that capacity, Defence is given oversight of all key project decisions, variation claims, payment claims and so on.

In her first supplementary question, Senator Rhiannon said that Aurecon was responsible for waste management at many RAAF bases. I note that that is incorrect. Aurecon Australia is not the provider of waste management across the Defence estate.