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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 981 ..


What that says to me is, “We are just going to keep on doing it the way we have been doing it: there is nothing to see here; move along.” I cannot support the amendment, because I am not confident this government is going to fix these problems.

Let us go back to this so-called additional spending in the COVID year, because I am still confused about this. According to Ms Berry—and this is, again, in her amendment—this totals $8.9 million. What is not clear is whether this money was over and above the total maintenance contract or whether it was borrowed from money that would have been spent in this calendar year, leading up to the end of the financial year. That does line up, in part, with answers that I received to these questions in the recent estimates and annual reports hearings. Officials told me that they had overspent in 2020 and that there were a number of subcontractors who were not getting work in 2021. To me, that sounds like we have dragged money from calendar year 2021 into 2020 and it has been spent. I am just not sure that we can characterise that as additional money.

I got a call on this matter this morning from a subcontractor, who I will not name. You can understand that he does not want to be named. It is because he is worried that he will be penalised. Let us call him Peter. Peter told me that prior to January, as a Programmed subcontractor, he was getting 50 to 60 jobs per month. Since January he has had three minor jobs total. He has fallen off a cliff—50 to 60 jobs per month to less than one per month. What on earth is going on there, Mr Assistant Speaker? Peter told my office this morning that Programmed had told him that funds had been diverted to higher priorities but that normal workloads should resume for subcontractors in June or July.

This does not line up with the evidence that we got in the hearings. I was told in the hearings by officials that, in relation to the subcontractors who were contacting me, it was perhaps an indication that their work was substandard. This bloke has been working in this game for more than 20 years. This does not line up to me at all. Peter—that is not his real name—invested $30,000 in materials late last year for jobs that never eventuated. He has had to lay off three contract staff. I guess, most importantly, the work that this contractor would normally be doing now very clearly is not being done. It is not being done because (a) we know Peter is not doing it and (b) the level of contact that we are getting from tenants who say, “This isn’t being fixed,” lines up with that rhetoric.

I appreciate that this is a very tough and complex job. I endorse the words—I almost sound as though I am doing this begrudgingly—of the minister regarding the renewal of properties and how, for the most part, this leads to much better maintenance outcomes. I get that, but I cannot support the amendment because I am just not of the belief that these problems are going to be fixed.

Question put:

That the amendment be agreed to.


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