Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 1993
Parliamentary Record 21
Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 21 October 1993 duration of the project unless, of course, the government saw fit to amend the extent of the work or other such matters that would form a legitimate variation at our demand. With that exception, the price would remain constant for the duration of the project. He went on to say that there would 'not be any rise and fall formula as is the normal case with projects of a similar size'. Despite these assurances from the former minister, the present minister saw fit to issue a press briefing kit in which he claimed $2 1.4m of the cost blow-out on State Square was due to escalation. Exactly when did the minister decide to start claiming State Square was subject to escalation costs? On 12 October 1989, the member for Leanyer had told the House that a fixed price had been set for the Supreme Court building. He went on to say: 'When we come to the Parliament House, we will have a fixed price before -construction commences as we have indicated all along. Next April, we will all be in a position to identify the fixed price for the entire project'. Now that some heat is being applied, the present minister runs around furiously issuing press releases and briefing kits whilst claiming that taxpayers have had to bear $2 1.4m in escalation costs and that the blow-out is simply too bad. The member for Millner drew attention to a $10m difference between the minister's original cost of $56.4m and the $46.4m that the New Parliament House Committee reported in February 1989- The minister says now that the New Parliament House Committee did not include a whole range of factors and that the price it gave was for the basic building only. It is difficult to know at any time exactly what was in the contract, what was in the original cost and what was not included, but we will certainly be examining what the minister has said and also the records. Throughout the whole saga of State Square, Territorians have had to put up with a string of misleading statements from the Chief Minister and the lesser ministers in relation to the real cost of State Square. It is interesting to note that the present Minister for Transport and Works would not give an undertaking to resign if the total cost went over the $170m mark. Perhaps he is finally starting to realise that past lies about fixed costs and escalation costs are catching up with him all too quickly. Territorians are entitled to know why Tipperary Developments is on such a good wicket with the State Square project, especially when local subcontractors continue to be screwed to the wall over prolongation and variation claims. Every independent commentator has stated that the period of delay in settling these claims is well outside the normal level of consideration. I can only concur with the member for Millner in his candid appraisal of the absolute and total disregard that has been demonstrated for the hard-earned dollars of taxpayers that have been expended on this project. When considering the commencement of the project, I am reminded of something I saw occur at the weekend in the boardroom of the Hawthorn Football Club in Victoria. The Hawthorn Football Club Committee sought to extend its clubrooms at a cost of $400 000. The committee had awarded the contract to the president without going to tender and no questions or objections were raised at the time. However, 2 years on, the project is far from completed. It is running at a current cost in 1993 dollars of $1.2m and questions most certainly are being asked now. How was such a contract let without its being put out to tender? Why has it not been completed and why is the cost now 3 times the original estimate? Those are fair questions that should have been asked at the time, and they are all the more difficult for the Hawthorn Football Club president and committee to answer now, simply 10 156
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