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A New Building to House ACT Public Servants ?

By 5 July 2014 26

According to today’s Canberra Times, a new building to house ACT Government public servants maybe built. While its probably never a good time to do these things – there are huge lead times :

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-governments-new-office-block-for-public-servants-gets-green-light-20140704-zsvym.html

Good that they are thinking about all the options (eg. refurbishment of existing, build or lease from pvt sector over 25 years or so).

But, why on earth, does it HAVE to be in the city.  Surely, with videolinks, teleconferencing and other technologies now widely available and used there is no need for the new building to be in Civic ? Why something with a “skybridge” across to the Legislative Assembly ?  Surely a location in Civic with a potential skybridge, is overkill ?

I wonder what the Annual Rates will be on that location in Civic ?

I have absolutely no objection to anyone working in a reasonable standard of accommodation – I just want to see a full cost breakdown published – including into the future years – comparing each of the options.  This should include renovating the existing buildings option of course.  There must be some discipline on the ACT Gov’t – and close scrutiny of the figures to show what ever option is selected – if it goes ahead – is the the best possible value for money for Ratepayers and residents.  This should include in a location outside of Civic too.

Given that this ACT Government seem to regard ACT business, residents and Ratepayers as an unlimited source of revenue to tap into, I would also like to see an assessment of this additional cost, at a time when the Territory’s budget is deep in the red – and heading massively further into the red, on ACT Government fees and charges, including on Annual Rates !

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26 Responses to A New Building to House ACT Public Servants ?
#1
bd845:29 pm, 05 Jul 14

Heaven forbid they want to build their new building in a central location that is easy for most of their staff to get to!!? Like every other state or territory government in this country..

Have you visited Callum offices or MacArthur house and gone inside lately? The only refurbishment of those buildings is one involving a wrecking ball. The long term cost of maintaining those government owned buildings would far exceed the cost of leasing space in a new building, they did say the intention wasn’t to build and own it, only sell the land and lease it..

#2
JimCharles5:57 pm, 05 Jul 14

You’d think most staff would be against it….no free car parking anymore, it’s hard enough even if you want to pay to park around London circuit.
But i guess they want to place people there so they’ve got to spend money in Civic?

#3
rosscoact6:27 pm, 05 Jul 14

Hey Rommsey, someone would almost think you were against everything the current ACT government does.

#4
rommeldog566:36 pm, 05 Jul 14

bd84 said :

Heaven forbid they want to build their new building in a central location that is easy for most of their staff to get to!!? Like every other state or territory government in this country..

Have you visited Callum offices or MacArthur house and gone inside lately? The only refurbishment of those buildings is one involving a wrecking ball. The long term cost of maintaining those government owned buildings would far exceed the cost of leasing space in a new building, they did say the intention wasn’t to build and own it, only sell the land and lease it..

If some of the existing offices need to be demolished, then so be it. I’m just expressing a (my) view that the right decision should be made for the right and fiscally correct, reasons.

Also, re a “central location”. So, the Feds are wrong in locating Departments in Tuggeranong and Belconnen ? The world won’t end if staff have to travel a bit – those Federal dept’s have no trouble attracting staff to those non central locations. I would have thought that decentralisation to other parts of Canberra, away from Civic, would be useful for employment in those areas.

ACT Ratepayers just shouldn’t have to support a lot of extra cost to locate a building in Civic so it is “easy” for staff to get to. If it turns out to be not much more than in other locations in the ACT, then in Civic it should be.

I would have thought that just about everywhere in Canberra is “easy” to get to compared to most larger cities in Oz, though.

#5
Pork Hunt6:59 pm, 05 Jul 14

Go to Gungahlin and catch the bloody tram to and from.

#6
Maya1237:07 pm, 05 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

bd84 said :

Heaven forbid they want to build their new building in a central location that is easy for most of their staff to get to!!? Like every other state or territory government in this country..

Have you visited Callum offices or MacArthur house and gone inside lately? The only refurbishment of those buildings is one involving a wrecking ball. The long term cost of maintaining those government owned buildings would far exceed the cost of leasing space in a new building, they did say the intention wasn’t to build and own it, only sell the land and lease it..

If some of the existing offices need to be demolished, then so be it.

I’m just expressing a (my) view that the right decision should be made for the right and fiscally correct, reasons.

Also, re a “central location”. So, the Feds are wrong in locating Departments in Tuggeranong and Belconnen ?

The world won’t end if staff have to travel a bit – those Federal dept’s have no trouble attracting staff to those non central locations. I would have thought that decentralisation to other parts of Canberra, away from Civic, would be useful for employment in those areas.

ACT Ratepayers just shouldn’t have to support a lot of extra cost to locate a building in Civic so it is “easy” for staff to get to.

If it turns out to be not much more than in other locations in the ACT, then in Civic it should be.

I would have thought that just about everywhere in Canberra is “easy” to get to compared to most larger cities in Oz, though.

It’s not ideal expecting staff to have to travel great distances by putting offices in far flung suburbs. It’s fine for those living there, but not for others. It is best when work can be accessed by public transport, walking and cycling. The best places for offices are in locations where those modes of transport can be best utilised.

#7
Dacquiri7:43 pm, 05 Jul 14

They have to keep building stuff in Civic to (a) justify the light rail thing and (b) make like Canberra has a real ‘downtown’ just like other big, important cities.

#8
gooterz7:46 pm, 05 Jul 14

Anything built within 1km of vernon circle should be minimum of 30 floors.
Anything else is a waste of time and a waste of space. I thought they were trying to make Canberra more dense? Or perhaps they are too dense.

#9
dungfungus7:49 pm, 05 Jul 14

Canberra already has a spare Parliament House and it’s where such a building should be. Would be ideal.
It’s big enough to cater for Andrew Barr’s wildest dreams for the future.
I am serious.

#10
gooterz8:31 pm, 05 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

Canberra already has a spare Parliament House and it’s where such a building should be. Would be ideal.
It’s big enough to cater for Andrew Barr’s wildest dreams for the future.
I am serious.

Next up they’ll drain the lake and sell the land to developers to build more tiny apartments.

#11
rommeldog568:41 am, 06 Jul 14

Maya123 said :

rommeldog56 said :

bd84 said :

Heaven forbid they want to build their new building in a central location that is easy for most of their staff to get to!!? Like every other state or territory government in this country..

Have you visited Callum offices or MacArthur house and gone inside lately? The only refurbishment of those buildings is one involving a wrecking ball. The long term cost of maintaining those government owned buildings would far exceed the cost of leasing space in a new building, they did say the intention wasn’t to build and own it, only sell the land and lease it..

If some of the existing offices need to be demolished, then so be it.

I’m just expressing a (my) view that the right decision should be made for the right and fiscally correct, reasons.

Also, re a “central location”. So, the Feds are wrong in locating Departments in Tuggeranong and Belconnen ?

The world won’t end if staff have to travel a bit – those Federal dept’s have no trouble attracting staff to those non central locations. I would have thought that decentralisation to other parts of Canberra, away from Civic, would be useful for employment in those areas.

ACT Ratepayers just shouldn’t have to support a lot of extra cost to locate a building in Civic so it is “easy” for staff to get to.

If it turns out to be not much more than in other locations in the ACT, then in Civic it should be.

I would have thought that just about everywhere in Canberra is “easy” to get to compared to most larger cities in Oz, though.

It’s not ideal expecting staff to have to travel great distances by putting offices in far flung suburbs. It’s fine for those living there, but not for others. It is best when work can be accessed by public transport, walking and cycling. The best places for offices are in locations where those modes of transport can be best utilised.

“Far flung suburbs” ? “staff not having to travel great distances” ? : This is Canberra we are talking about. You can drive from one side to the other in about 30 minutes. I suppose, relative to Canberra itself, those comments are right. Going by that reckoning though, putting the new ACT Govt offices in Gunners (no – Im not living there – Im in Tuggers) would be useful for the toy train set ’cause ACT public servants who are already living in Civic would catch the tram the opposite way to the majority at peak hours.

In most other States I believe that State Gov’t public servants have been progressively relocated out of the CBD area as leases expire, buildings become uneconomic to maintain, etc. Or, those buildings in CBDs have sometimes been renovated to persevere them.

There will always be winners and loosers when a Gov’t or private sector employer relocates. Its costs that drive the private sector locations. That doesn’t seem to be a factor in many ACT Gov’t decisions Im afraid.

Still, if the Gov’t was serious about containing costs, I suppose that ACT public servants could also end up in Fyshwick or at the airport like so many others ?

But we all know, if it happens, it will be built in Civic, so relax. But if it isn’t and the extra travel across the Canberra megatropolis is too much for a few ACT Govt public servants to handle, then they may have to do what happens in the private sector and in other State Gov’ts, resign and look for work closer to home. There will be plenty of others prepared to travel to take those jobs.

#12
agent_clone9:36 am, 06 Jul 14

Given that:
a) My understanding is that they are currently building something in Gungahlin for some of the ACT public servants.
b) They want it within a 10 minute walk of the ACT legislative assembly
That there are some requirements that those staff members regularly/occasionally need to go to the legislative aseembly for whatever reason.

Yes there are video conferencing options, however it is not necessarily just meetings where you talk that occur. You have documents to sign, things to discuss, computers to fix. There are a variety of reasons to have at least some presence in civic. In your cost calculations you would also need to factor in the time it takes to get from place a to b, and the cost of taking taxis from place a to b.

#13
Maya12312:32 pm, 06 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

Maya123 said :

rommeldog56 said :

bd84 said :

Heaven forbid they want to build their new building in a central location that is easy for most of their staff to get to!!? Like every other state or territory government in this country..

Have you visited Callum offices or MacArthur house and gone inside lately? The only refurbishment of those buildings is one involving a wrecking ball. The long term cost of maintaining those government owned buildings would far exceed the cost of leasing space in a new building, they did say the intention wasn’t to build and own it, only sell the land and lease it..

If some of the existing offices need to be demolished, then so be it.

I’m just expressing a (my) view that the right decision should be made for the right and fiscally correct, reasons.

Also, re a “central location”. So, the Feds are wrong in locating Departments in Tuggeranong and Belconnen ?

The world won’t end if staff have to travel a bit – those Federal dept’s have no trouble attracting staff to those non central locations. I would have thought that decentralisation to other parts of Canberra, away from Civic, would be useful for employment in those areas.

ACT Ratepayers just shouldn’t have to support a lot of extra cost to locate a building in Civic so it is “easy” for staff to get to.

If it turns out to be not much more than in other locations in the ACT, then in Civic it should be.

I would have thought that just about everywhere in Canberra is “easy” to get to compared to most larger cities in Oz, though.

It’s not ideal expecting staff to have to travel great distances by putting offices in far flung suburbs. It’s fine for those living there, but not for others. It is best when work can be accessed by public transport, walking and cycling. The best places for offices are in locations where those modes of transport can be best utilised.

“Far flung suburbs” ?

“staff not having to travel great distances” ?

: This is Canberra we are talking about. You can drive from one side to the other in about 30 minutes. I suppose, relative to Canberra itself, those comments are right. Going by that reckoning though, putting the new ACT Govt offices in Gunners (no – Im not living there – Im in Tuggers) would be useful for the toy train set ’cause ACT public servants who are already living in Civic would catch the tram the opposite way to the majority at peak hours.

In

most other States I believe that State Gov’t public servants have been progressively relocated out of the CBD area as leases expire, buildings become uneconomic to maintain, etc. Or, those buildings in CBDs have sometimes been renovated to persevere them.

There will always be winners and loosers when a Gov’t or private sector employer relocates. Its costs that drive the private sector locations. That doesn’t seem to be a factor in many ACT Gov’t decisions Im afraid.

Still, if the Gov’t was serious about containing costs, I suppose that ACT public servants could also end up in Fyshwick or at the airport like so many others ?

But we all know, if it happens, it will be built in Civic, so relax. But if it isn’t and the extra travel across the Canberra megatropolis is too much for a few ACT Govt public servants to handle, then they may have to do what happens in the private sector and in other State Gov’ts, resign and look for work closer to home. There will be plenty of others prepared to travel to take those jobs.

“You can drive from one side to the other in about 30 minutes.”
In peak hour! Doubtful. For example, I was on the Majura Road a few days ago and the traffic was at a standstill.
Having work locations that require long commutes depends on the workers having a car. Some people don’t/can’t drive. How do those people get to work if their workplace is moved to an outer suburb? Having work away from central areas discourages the use of alternative transport such as bikes and public transport, or plain walking. It costs the community money on infrastructure for roads and car parks. Plus the related health expense of people not getting enough exercise. Or if the cost of these facilities is passed onto users, such as in parking fees, that’s another expense on the top of petrol (which will continue getting more expensive) for the commuter to find. Sure, the worker can sell up and move close to their work place, but what if then their work moves from Gungahlin to Tuggeranong? Do they move again? At least a central location has better transport options.

#14
rommeldog562:27 pm, 06 Jul 14

maya123 : That’s because there is roadworks along Majura Road at present.

Given your logic for employment bases being in central locations, I look forward to seeing the rapid expansion of Civic and many more business/employers moving there and away from Tuggers, Fyshwick, Belco, Gunners, etc.

I don’t know where a position such as yours takes us, except, ultimately the total congestion of Civic.

#15
Maya1236:01 pm, 06 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

maya123 : That’s because there is roadworks along Majura Road at present.

Given your logic for employment bases being in central locations, I look forward to seeing the rapid expansion of Civic and many more business/employers moving there and away from Tuggers, Fyshwick, Belco, Gunners, etc.

I don’t know where a position such as yours takes us, except, ultimately the total congestion of Civic.

It takes us to good planned public transport and not ever expanding car parking. And people willing to walk a few hundred metres without complaining. There should be lots of handicapped parking for those that can’t.

#16
HiddenDragon1:00 pm, 07 Jul 14

Before committing another large lump of ACT taxpayers’ funds to a new building, they might be wise to wait a little longer and see what happens with ongoing federal “rationalisation” – there might be quite a bit of space coming up in Civic and, who knows, landlords might actually be prepared to offer truly attractive deals to get a solid, long-term tenant.

As to the arguments about centralisation and proximity, there doubtless are some functions which need to be located within close proximity of the Legislative Assembly, but others might benefit from the perspective of a geographic location other than Civic and the inner north.

#17
gooterz7:42 pm, 07 Jul 14

Pork Hunt said :

Go to Gungahlin and catch the bloody tram to and from.

Hands up anyone that would rather park in the city and rail to Belconnen?

* There isn’t going to be any parking in City to make light rail useful to anyone but those already close enough to walk.

———————————–

Can I make a prediction that they build the thing right next to the Assembly, then the next item of business would be to move the Assembly somewhere else!

#18
gooterz7:43 pm, 07 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

Before committing another large lump of ACT taxpayers’ funds to a new building, they might be wise to wait a little longer and see what happens with ongoing federal “rationalisation” – there might be quite a bit of space coming up in Civic and, who knows, landlords might actually be prepared to offer truly attractive deals to get a solid, long-term tenant.

As to the arguments about centralisation and proximity, there doubtless are some functions which need to be located within close proximity of the Legislative Assembly, but others might benefit from the perspective of a geographic location other than Civic and the inner north.

The fact is that most fed’s are changing. Either decreasing or increasing or merging, there’s heaps of space everywhere.

#19
rosscoact4:38 am, 08 Jul 14

gooterz said :

HiddenDragon said :

Before committing another large lump of ACT taxpayers’ funds to a new building, they might be wise to wait a little longer and see what happens with ongoing federal “rationalisation” – there might be quite a bit of space coming up in Civic and, who knows, landlords might actually be prepared to offer truly attractive deals to get a solid, long-term tenant.

As to the arguments about centralisation and proximity, there doubtless are some functions which need to be located within close proximity of the Legislative Assembly, but others might benefit from the perspective of a geographic location other than Civic and the inner north.

The fact is that most fed’s are changing. Either decreasing or increasing or merging, there’s heaps of space everywhere.

However, the rationalisation to co-locate many of the administrative public servants doesn’t stack up if they are not in the same building, IE, you just move them from their current scattered separate buildings to other scattered separate buildings.

This is what the Property Council would prefer, churn is great for their bottom line.

#20
HiddenDragon12:30 pm, 08 Jul 14

rosscoact said :

gooterz said :

HiddenDragon said :

Before committing another large lump of ACT taxpayers’ funds to a new building, they might be wise to wait a little longer and see what happens with ongoing federal “rationalisation” – there might be quite a bit of space coming up in Civic and, who knows, landlords might actually be prepared to offer truly attractive deals to get a solid, long-term tenant.

As to the arguments about centralisation and proximity, there doubtless are some functions which need to be located within close proximity of the Legislative Assembly, but others might benefit from the perspective of a geographic location other than Civic and the inner north.

The fact is that most fed’s are changing. Either decreasing or increasing or merging, there’s heaps of space everywhere.

However, the rationalisation to co-locate many of the administrative public servants doesn’t stack up if they are not in the same building, IE, you just move them from their current scattered separate buildings to other scattered separate buildings.

This is what the Property Council would prefer, churn is great for their bottom line.

Churn is inevitable in bureaucracies, whether public or private sector. In the case of the public sector, it happens regularly, and not just when there is a change of government. It’s fanciful to think that one purpose-built building, designed for the numbers of ACT Government staff currently deemed necessary to be proximate to the Legislative assembly, will avoid churn for more than a few years.

#21
rommeldog5612:59 pm, 08 Jul 14

Its hard to plan a new building to house xxx numbers of staff when the lead times to plan/build are 2-3 years or more. Whether ACT or Fed’s, a lot can happen in that timeframe (especially to the Fed’s – where every budget these days seems to have lots of Machinery of Government changes to Agencies).

Its not uncommon for a building to be either too large or too small for the numbers of staff, when they are actually occupied.

#22
davo1013:17 pm, 09 Jul 14

Funny how fast things can change. This was Mr Barr in April:

He said they remained committed to a “hub and spoke” approach for office accommodation, where public servants were spread across the ACT, but the government would look to divest itself of property in Civic.

#23
rommeldog569:28 pm, 09 Jul 14

davo101 said :

Funny how fast things can change. This was Mr Barr in April:

He said they remained committed to a “hub and spoke” approach for office accommodation, where public servants were spread across the ACT, but the government would look to divest itself of property in Civic.

Well, is it any wonder why so many people have lost faith in politicians ? Still, like PUP, I guess Mr Barr can just say that he changed his mind……..

I still marvel at the ACT Gov’t drawings that don’t show the poles supporting the overhead cables – as in the link.

If it were a private company not disclosing to potential customers, you can imagine what would happen re Fair Trading, possible trade practices issues, etc.

#24
rosscoact5:20 am, 10 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

Its hard to plan a new building to house xxx numbers of staff when the lead times to plan/build are 2-3 years or more.

Whether ACT or Fed’s, a lot can happen in that timeframe (especially to the Fed’s – where every budget these days seems to have lots of Machinery of Government changes to Agencies).

Its not uncommon for a building to be either too large or too small for the numbers of staff, when they are actually occupied.

That’s very true but there’s a lot more flexibility in a single large building than there is in 16 small buildings.

This is particularly relevant in a small jurisdiction where changes AAOs which happen every year or two mean that your section or division could be working in a building in which nobody else from your Directorate works. In a single large building this becomes an irrelevancy. In a scatter-gun approach it can add costs and reduce effectiveness for the workforce.

I don’t mind one large building if it means reduced overall costs and an increase in productivity. Hell, ACT public servants deserve decent accommodation like any other worker. Renovation of buildings like Mac house and Callum and even Nara House is just putting (expensive) lipstick on a pig.

However, there does need to be an accompanying improvement in shopfront access and the use of technology to reduce waste.

#25
John Moulis11:06 am, 10 Jul 14

The ACT used to have a single building to house public servants in the 1980s and early ’90s in Constitution Ave which also housed the ACT Legislative Assembly in the early years of self government. It was called The ACT Administration Centre or ACTAC for short. As the number of public servants increased they were housed across Canberra.

#26
HiddenDragon11:36 am, 10 Jul 14

John Moulis said :

The ACT used to have a single building to house public servants in the 1980s and early ’90s in Constitution Ave which also housed the ACT Legislative Assembly in the early years of self government. It was called The ACT Administration Centre or ACTAC for short. As the number of public servants increased they were housed across Canberra.

There may have been others then, including for Health and Education, but the point about growth in numbers is still very relevant.

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