Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) . . Page.. 2138 ..
I find it a bit sad that we have to remind the government and drag them kicking and screaming to try to implement their own promises, their own policies. It has similarities to some of the government’s other areas where they talk the big talk but really drag their feet when it comes to the implementation of ICAC or ACIC, as one example.
This is an important motion because a chief engineer would play a vital role in ensuring that infrastructure in the ACT is world class and of sound quality. By having a chief engineer the government is ensuring that value is achieved in infrastructure projects. It ensures we have expert advice to the government on engineering, science, planning and safety. The outcomes for the community will be best served by having a chief engineer. It is a long-overdue appointment. And the chief engineer can play a role in ensuring that projects are delivered on time, on budget and to the highest standard possible, which is in direct contrast to the appointment of the engineer itself, which has not been on time or of the highest standard and has no funding allocated to it.
The role of a chief engineer is so vital in ensuring the safety of our infrastructure builds. This city has seen what poor engineering expertise on major projects can lead to. For example, in August 2010 the city came to a standstill after the GDE that was in the process of being built collapsed onto the Barton Highway. Ten people were taken to hospital. We were so very lucky that no-one was killed in that accident. As a city, we promised we would not allow this to happen again and we would learn from our experiences.
More recently we have had the issue of replacing cladding on the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children that was flammable, a cladding that was known by the industry to be flammable when it was put on the hospital. It begs the question: would a chief engineer have advised against the installation of that cladding? I guess we will never know. But we do now have the opportunity to learn from these mistakes and appoint a chief engineer.
We do have infrastructure projects being built in the ACT—buildings, roads and light rail, for example, as well as other infrastructure projects. But we have to ensure we are getting value and good quality from those projects, including light rail. That is the type of thing that a chief engineer would look at. There may have been further scrutiny about whether Mitchell would get a light rail stop if the ACT had a chief engineer.
But while the government are willing to tax us more and more, more than ever before, they are not willing to spend that money to ensure the safety and the future of Canberra through good engineering. If they are, perhaps they could hurry up and employ the chief engineer that they promised 18 months ago and again 12 months ago. If it was such a good idea in 2016 that they went to the election promising it, if it was such a good idea on 4 June 2017 that they put out a press release about it, why has it not happened?