Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (11:54): On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the fourth report for the year 2017 on referrals made December 2016 and February 2017. I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).
Mr BUCHHOLZ: by leave—On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works I present the committee's fourth report for 2017 on three proposals referred in December 2016 and February 2017. The first proposal is for the refurbishment of the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. The project will demolish the existing embassy building, which has aged and is quickly deteriorating. It will replace it with a modern iconic building with a project cost estimated around $236 million.
In brief, what will happen in that space in Washington is that our embassy will take up temporary residence in a leased property. That leased property will have to be specced up to security specifications. We currently have tenants, and we will need to service their requirements in Washington. We will do a demolish of the existing embassy. In Washington, under the local town planning act, we are unable to go higher to cater for the extra floor space that we need because the town planning act requires that no building can be higher than the top of the spire of Capitol Hill on top of the Congress. So that must always remain the highest building in Washington DC. So we are going to put another basement in our Washington embassy.
The second proposal is for a fit-out of a new leased premise for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection headquarters in Canberra. The department currently leases about 12 different office spaces around Canberra. We are looking to consolidate that to five buildings and bring resources back in under one roof. The department advises that this will achieve some life savings during the project of some $236 million in reduced rent alone, notwithstanding the efficiencies we will get from reducing from 12 properties to five. In addition to these savings, the work will allow the Australian Border Force to have its operational headquarters in a single location rather than being spread across several properties around Canberra. This consolidation will assist in making Border Force and its operational areas far more effective and efficient. It will help to ensure that Border Force of those tasked with protecting Australia's borders are better equipped to do so.
These works will provide an unified watchfloor with the capability of uninterrupted operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The works will also provide Border Force with far more flexibility at their operational headquarters, allowing them to make changes that enhance their capacity to respond to the evolving security environment on our borders with the appropriate speed. The project cost is estimated at $255.3 million, excluding GST.
I would also like to draw to the attention of the House the unauthorised disclosure of committee proceedings in the media last week. Confidential proceedings of the committee appeared in a major newspaper. The matter will be considered by the committee in due course.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is also seeking to consolidate its Melbourne presence through this proposal. It currently leases space in four locations. That will reduce to one location in Melbourne CBD. The project cost estimated is $15.68 million, excluding GST.
The committee recommends that these three proposals should be agreed and proceeded with. I commend the report to the House. I move:
That the House take note of the report.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 39, the debate is adjourned. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.
Mr BUCHHOLZ: I move:
That the order of the day be referred to the Federation Chamber for debate.
Question agreed to.