Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 August 2011) . . Page.. 3784 ..
We do not want the government to put a huge amount of energy and materials into building something which will be very wonderful when, for significantly less energy and materials, they could retrofit an existing building which would meet 99.99 per cent of the requirements. That seems to be where the government are missing out.
The other issue on which I have some sympathy with the Liberal Party is opportunity costs. I accept that the government has done economic analysis and has found that its current plan is economically positive to the government. But the problem, from the point of view of the people outside the government, is that we have seen no analysis of the various outcomes and options. We have not seen a new analysis on the basis of the fact that rental prices in the ACT have decreased considerably compared to the time when the analysis, we believe, was done. That is an obvious one that should be done. It may have changed the equation. And we have not seen an analysis looking at it from the point of view of the ACT as a whole rather than the ACT government on things such as the third hospital or light rail or the general improvements on Northbourne Avenue or the myriad things that we could be investing in.
Given the government will be borrowing money to construct this building, it is something which, as a community, we really have to think about. Is this the best use of scarce government resources? It may be, but I do not think the government has yet done the work to demonstrate that.
Ms Hunter’s amendment mentions resource management plans, and these are very relevant to the government office building project. One of the issues is that most government departments have not yet done their resource management plans. So what that means is they have not sat down and said, “Given where we are, what can we actually do to decrease our water and energy use?” It may be that if we put a bit of effort into looking at some of the buildings—I quite agree that not all of them have a positive future, but some of them probably do have—something could be done with them. Dame Pattie Menzies House comes to mind. It is hard for me to see why that could not be part of the ACT government’s future office accommodation. I would like to echo Mr Smyth’s concerns for the future of Dickson if all the office accommodation in that precinct is removed. I think it could be quite problematic for Dickson.
Finally, as I have only very little time left, I would like to say that I am pleased to see that the government is doing market testing. It is important to make it clear to the market that the government is serious about doing market testing and it is serious about looking at innovative options rather than simply building one building in the car park next to us. That is an option, but it is not the only option, and I call upon the government to look at the feasible options.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (3.46): By and large, the government are able to support Ms Hunter’s amendment. I have circulated an addition to that I will formally move in a moment. But, Mr Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the government are committed to accommodating our public service in buildings that maximise productivity and