Page 3276 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 16 August 2011

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But I know that there are a lot of other buildings that are empty in this town. There are a lot of other buildings empty in this town and a lot of them could actually be used to accommodate ACT public servants. Doing something like that has big environmental benefits, because you have already got the structure of the building there. It potentially has big financial benefits both for the government and the owners of the buildings at present. I think that that is something that really needs to be looked at.

The other thing, of course, that Mr Barr did not really go to in his commentary was that the government has kind of fairly seriously put the cart before the horse. What PAC was talking about was the concept that we develop a strategy and then think that things fall out of it. What we seem to have done is decide what we want to do—build a large new government office building in Civic—and then, some day, we might develop a strategy. That is just the wrong way around to do it. I am sure that Mr Smyth will talk more on that.

In conclusion, I am confident this is not the last conversation we will have on this subject. I look forward to improvement in the government’s proposal. In that vein, I welcome the government’s decision now to do some market testing on the possibilities of alternative supply for a government office building.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella), by leave: As Mr Barr said, this was circulated out of session. It was a very short report by the public accounts committee but on a very particular interest. It is disappointing to hear Mr Barr say that it was an attempt of the committee to politicise the issue. Whether he likes it or not, PAC is actually allowed an opinion. Whether he likes it or not, PAC is there to keep the government accountable on expenditure.

Mr Barr: I have got no problems with that, but you are also politicians.

MR SMYTH: An expenditure of $432 billion—yes, we are also politicians. A very astute observation, Mr Barr. It is interesting that when Mr Barr does something it is for the good of the community. Whenever anybody else does something, we are politicians. Go figure! I think, Mr Barr, that the community is across that level of hypocrisy.

Look, there were only three recommendations. It was a very simple report. It was an interim report because, at that stage, the government was apparently doing a whole-of-government office accommodation strategy. Recommendation 3 states:

The committee recommends that the ACT Government whole-of-government office accommodation strategy should be finalised and considered by the ACT Legislative Assembly, prior to any final decision, or awarding of any contract, with regard to the whole-of-government office building project.

Government response:

Not agreed.

Here is the reason why it is not agreed, Madam Assistant Speaker:

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