House of Representatives Committees

| Parliamentary Joint Committee on Regional Australia

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Chapter 1 Introduction

  1. Under the Public Works Committee Act 1969 (the Act), the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works  is required to inquire into and report on public works referred to it through either house of Parliament. Referrals are generally made by the Special Minister of State.

  2. All public works that have an estimated cost exceeding $15 million must be referred to the Committee and cannot be commenced until the Committee has made its report to Parliament and the House of Representatives receives that report and resolves that it is expedient to carry out the work.[1]

  3. Under the Act, a public work is a work proposed to be undertaken by the Commonwealth, or on behalf of the Commonwealth concerning:
  • the construction, alteration, repair, refurbishment or fitting-out of buildings and other structures;

  • the installation, alteration or repair of plant and equipment designed to be used in, or in relation to, the provision of services for buildings and other structures;

  • the undertaking, construction, alteration or repair of landscaping and earthworks (whether or not in relation to buildings and other structures);

  • the demolition, destruction, dismantling or removal of buildings, plant and equipment, earthworks, and other structures;

  • the clearing of land and the development of land for use as urban land or otherwise; and

  • any other matter declared by the regulations to be a work.[2]
  1. The Act requires that the Committee consider and report on:
  • the purpose of the work and its suitability for that purpose;

  • the need for, or the advisability of, carrying out the work;

  • whether the money to be expended on the work is being spent in the most cost effective manner;

  • the amount of revenue the work will generate for the Commonwealth, if that is its purpose; and

  • the present and prospective public value of the work.[3]
  1. The Committee pays attention to these and any other relevant factors when considering the proposed work.

Structure of the report

  1. Works considered in this report were referred to the Committee in February and March 2011 by the Special Minister of State, the Hon Gary Gray MP. The Committee is also reporting on a budget update held in relation to a work that was considered, and reported on, in 2009.

  2. In considering the works, the Committee analysed the evidence presented by the proponent agency, public submissions and evidence received at public and in-camera hearings.

  3. In consideration of the need to report expeditiously as required by Section 17(1) of the Act, the Committee has only reported on major issues of concern.

  4. The Committee appreciates, and fully considers, the input of the community to its inquiries. Those interested in the proposals considered in this report are encouraged to access the full inquiry proceedings available on the Committee’s website.

  5. Chapter 2 addresses the proposed development and construction of housing for the Department of Defence at Muirhead, Darwin, Northern Territory. The project is estimated to cost $410 million.

  6. Chapter 3 addresses the proposed Robertson Barracks electrical reticulation system upgrade, Darwin, Northern Territory. The project is estimated to cost $43.4 million.

  7. Chapter 4 addresses the proposed redevelopment of the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The project is estimated to cost $98.5 million.

  8. Chapter 5 addresses the budget update for the Larrakeyah housing project, located in Darwin, Northern Territory. The works are underway, and are being undertaken by Defence Housing Australia.

  9. Submissions are listed at Appendix A, and inspections, hearings and witnesses are listed at Appendix B.


[1]               The Public Works Committee Act 1969, (the Act) Part III, Section 18 (8). Exemptions from this requirement are provided for work of an urgent nature, defence work contrary to the public interest, repetitive work, and work by prescribed authorities listed in the Regulations.

[2]               The Act, Section 5.

[3]               The Act, Section 17.

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