Page 5355 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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A lot of what was done here was to look back and see what happened. The structure of many committee reports is really about recommendations for the future. We needed to reflect on the past and make particular findings because we were asked to do particular things—for instance, to find out how much these delays had cost—and we felt that we needed to make recommendations to ensure that these things did not happen in the future.

I will go to the last of the findings. Finding 25 says:

At the time of reporting the cost to the ACT of delays in construction of the AMC is $3.516 million.

So over six months, the failure to commence operations at the AMC had resulted in a cost of $3.516 million. That is not a final cost. It is possible it may go up; it is possible it may go down. The issue in relation to liquidated damages is not resolved. The committee makes particular recommendations in relation to liquidated damages, requiring the government to report to the Assembly about progress and the final resolution related to liquidated damages.

This has been, as I said before, a matter of considerable embarrassment to the government, and a lot of it hangs on the statements made by the minister at the time. The minister, as I said, tried to lay the blame entirely with the security contractor in relation to this, but the committee, in finding 22 in paragraph 5.65, says:

While there were significant delays in installing the AMC security system not all the delays to the commencement of operations of the AMC were due to the security system as the Attorney-General has contended.

We go back to the whole process. The findings in relation to the building process dwell on a litany of errors and a breakdown in communication—or not so much a breakdown in communication but a labyrinthine style of management that meant that communication on many occasions was very poor.

It also became apparent to the members of the committee that, as a result of this poor communication, there was a very poor quality of briefing going to the ministers and that what the ministers were apparently receiving was factual briefings that said, “The commence dated was X but it has blown out by five days,” and then another briefing saying, “The commencement date was Y but that has been blown out by 10 days.”

At no stage did we see any evidence that there was any analysis going to the minister saying, “We now have a cumulative five, 10, 15 or 30 days blow-out in the completion date and this means the following things.” Possibly, it means that the security contractors did not get access to the site for what was called a “blackout” site, so that there was no-one else on the site except the security contractors to do the final installation and the initial testing. That never happened. It meant that there was no analysis of “If we don’t open when we said we would, what implications will that have for remandees, the people interstate, for our capacity to move people interstate?” et cetera.

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