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 made pursuant to Section 18 of the Act, and by practice are made by the Minister for Finance or their delegate in the House of Representatives.
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.
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.
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.
The Committee pays attention to these and any other relevant factors when considering the proposed work.
Dissolution of the 45th Parliament
The Proposed CSIRO Sydney Consolidation Project, New South Wales was referred to the Public Works Committee (PWC) of the 45th Parliament on 13 February 2019.
The Committee had received submissions from the entity and additional submitters prior to the dissolution of the 45th Parliament, however, it was unable to conduct a hearing before the Committee was dissolved. The referral therefore lapsed.
The CSIRO Sydney Consolidation was referred to the PWC of the 46th Parliament on 31 July 2019. CSIRO advised that there had been a number of changes to the proposal since the original referral in the 45th Parliament so the Committee chose to call for submissions. Evidence for the original and subsequent referral taken on the inquiry is available on the Committee’s website.
Structure of the Report
In considering the works, the Committee analysed the evidence presented by the proponent agencies, submissions and evidence received at public and in-camera hearings.
In consideration of the need to report expeditiously as required by Section 17(1) of the Act, the Committee has only reported on significant issues of interest or concern.
Chapter 2 addresses the proposed CSIRO Sydney Consolidation Project, New South Wales. The estimated cost of this project is $107.26 million (excluding GST).
Submissions are listed at Appendix A, and hearings and witnesses are listed at Appendix B.