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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2010) . . Page.. 351 ..


interview on ABC radio on 3 September 2009 said: “The government is disappointed. The government received this latest news over the last week with significant surprise—well, complete surprise and significant concern.”

Indeed, the Chief Minister in that interview was even moved to suggest, “There are aspects perhaps of communication in relation to this, and perhaps in their cost estimates, that on reflection need deep review.” How could a government undertaking the most significant capital works project in the history of self-government be so poorly informed as to be surprised, disappointed and concerned at such a cost blow-out as we have seen for the Cotter Dam?

Since 2005 there has been a lack of honesty shown by this government in relation to this project. In 2005, when it was announced that the cost would be $120 million, the people of Canberra took that on face value. There were no qualifications, no statements, about the costs that were left out. There certainly was no mention of any term called “final out-turn costs”. The people of Canberra accepted and believed that the cost would be $120 million. In October 2004 it increased to $145 million and again it was sold as the final cost of the project.

Then in 2008 the cost became $188.5 million. Once again, no explanation of the cost was provided. Then the cost went to $246 million. Again, no honesty was displayed to the people of Canberra by the ACT Labor government. It was not until the September 2009 announcement that the cost would be $363 million that some of the truth came out from this government. It was only then that we learned that those most basic, fundamental costing elements had been omitted from the earlier estimates. It was only then that we heard about the term “final out-turn costs”.

It was only then that we were told that early estimates were never very accurate and there always are bits left out. Along the way, did this government ask for detailed explanations for the ever-increasing estimates? Did it ask whether all costing elements were included? Perhaps the answer to these questions lies in the fact that the government was surprised, disappointed and concerned about the quarter-of-a-billion-dollar cost blow-out in September 2009.

There are many other elements of this project that should come under scrutiny. These include the inconsistencies that have come forward in relation to design and works elements. For example, we heard in September 2009 that one reason for the cost blow-out to $363 million was that the volume of material required for the wall had increased from a quarter of a million cubic metres to 385,000 cubic metres because the foundation excavations had to go much lower than expected. Yet the drawings suggest that this was evident at least a year before it came to light in the public. So what is the true story? The story is that the ACT government should be telling the people of the ACT what is going on with the dam but, as things stand, they may never know.

One of the other areas I would like to deal with briefly is the issue of the Belconnen town centre bus interchange. We may eventually end up with a new, schmick and lovely bus interchange, but the work that has gone on in the interim has been appalling in relation to the impact that it has on people in the community. The way


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