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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 11 Hansard (16 September) . . Page.. 4067..


Emergency Services Authority—headquarters

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, the Auditor-General reported recently on the relocation of the ESA's headquarters. The auditor reported that the cost of this project had blown out from $11.6 million to $75.3 million and that the headquarters will now be located on three separate sites. Minister, why has the cost of this project increased by more than 500 per cent and what action are you taking to constrain the cost of this project?

MR CORBELL: These costs have increased given the period of time that has been involved since its inception to its final delivery. The reason—

Mr Seselja: Five hundred per cent.

MR CORBELL: Well, they asked the question, Mr Speaker. I am giving an answer. The reason for that, of course, is that following 2006 and the review and reorganisation of government services that occurred in 2006, the scale and scope of the ESA as an agency changed. There was a need to readjust the nature of buildings to ensure that they met the needs of the ESA. There was a subsequent need to renegotiate the contractual arrangements that had been entered into by the ESA as a statutory authority with the Canberra International Airport.

Opposition members interjecting

MR CORBELL: I think I might conclude my answer, Mr Speaker. They are clearly not interested in the answer.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?

MR HANSON: Minister, why do you attempt to blame the former authority for this mess when the auditor reports, in paragraphs 5.21 and 5.40, that it was your government that made the key decisions for this project?

MR CORBELL: The auditor also highlighted that the ESA, as the statutory authority, was the organisation providing the advice to government in relation to this project. There is no doubt that the auditor's report confirms that the former statutory authority failed to provide effective and detailed advice to the minister and the government about this project. That was a clear problem with the development of this project.

Ministers have to act based on the advice they receive from their officials. On this occasion, the advice that the minister was receiving was from the Emergency Services Authority. The authority failed to provide effective and detailed advice to the government. For that reason, the government acted to remedy the situation to bring the ESA back within the justice portfolio for the purposes of better project management, better coordination of services, better integration and better financial management overall.

Those were the reasons why the ESA was brought back within the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety. It was an important decision that has brought better


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