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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 12 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 4872..


Visitors

MR SPEAKER: I would like to welcome the members of the Arawang Ladies Probus Club who have joined us at the Assembly today and are joining us for question time. Welcome to the Assembly.

Questions without notice

Emergency Services Agency—headquarters

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, an FOI requested by the Canberra Liberals concerning the decision to locate the new ESA headquarters at Fairbairn, as reported in the Canberra Times today, revealed:

Senior officials repeatedly warned the ACT Government ... was insufficiently planned and unnecessarily costly ...

The document also says that the decision:

... would appear to have been based on the availability of buildings rather than on identifying the needs of the ESA.

The government's reasoning and excuse is listed as:

The advice couldn't be accepted because the Government had already signed a contract with the airport group.

Minister, why did the government sign a contract when the ESA headquarters project was 'insufficiently planned and unnecessarily costly'?

MR CORBELL: The ESA advised the government about the suitability of entering into those arrangements at Fairbairn, and the government accepted, at the time, that advice. It was one of the failures of governance on the part of the ESA when it was a statutory authority that led the government to reintegrate the ESA back into the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, to ensure there was improved project governance in relation to this matter and other matters.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, members, the minister is answering the question.

MR CORBELL: So the advice to enter into that arrangement was based on the ESA's assessment at the time about the suitability of the site. That assessment was proven to be invalid and not correct, and the government had to take significant steps to improve governance arrangements in relation to the ESA, including the abolition of the ESA as a statutory, stand-alone authority, a position, I note, Mr Smyth still supports publicly. In contrast, the government believes governance has been significantly improved as a result of the integration of the ESA into the broader Justice and Community Safety Directorate.


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