Chief Minister Stanhope is addressing the sole specific Liberal complaint about his 2011 budget, the planned half billion dollar construction of a mega office to house the entire ACT Public Service (less the penal battalion to be exiled to Gungahlin).
“Compared to all other viable options for meeting the Government’s accommodation needs, the new office block will deliver operational savings of around $19.3 million per year and an estimated $15 million of indirect savings annually,” Mr Stanhope said. “Additionally, on completion, the building’s value will be considerably more than the construction cost.”
Mr Stanhope said by financing the building itself, and taking advantage of the Government’s AAA credit rating, the Government could access finance at rates significantly below those available to the private sector.
He said the co-location of public service functions was a priority recommendation of the Hawke Review and would help fulfil the Government’s ambitious target of carbon neutral Government buildings by 2020. Initial estimates predict a reduction of 60 per cent of Greenhouse gas emissions per employee could be achieved.
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“Public servants who would relocate to the Government office building are currently dispersed across the ACT and occupy a total of 19 separate offices,” Mr Stanhope said.
The Government has benchmarked the project against other organisations that have achieved major consolidations of their workforces. In particular, the co-location of employees at the ANZ Bank at the Docklands in Melbourne, SA Water in Adelaide and the Brisbane City Council, has shown benefits that significantly exceeded initial expectations.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” Mr Stanhope said. “Currently we are paying rent for poor quality accommodation, in multiple locations and we own buildings that will never be capable of achieving our environmental targets, even with significant investment.
“This $432 million investment is not competing with funding for hospitals, schools and roads, rather it is replacing existing rental and owned buildings with one new building. The construction of the new office building would also lead to the sale of a number of existing offices such as Macarthur House, Dame Patti Menzies House and the Callum offices, which would be surplus.