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 National Museum of Australia Gallery Development Stage 1: Life in Australia project was referred to the Public Works Committee (PWC) of the 45th Parliament on 13 February 2019.
The Committee had completed the inquiry processes but did not table a report prior to the dissolution of the Parliament. The referral therefore lapsed.
The National Museum of Australia Gallery Development Stage 1: Life in Australia project was referred to the PWC of the 46th Parliament on 31 July 2019. The Committee decided not to repeat the inquiry process as it was advised by the National Museum of Australia that there had been no significant changes to the work since the original referral. Evidence taken on the inquiry is available on the Committee’s website.
The Committee thanks members of the PWC of the 45th Parliament for their time and expertise in conducting the inquiry.
Structure of the Report
In considering the works, the Committee analysed the evidence presented by the proponent agency, 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 National Museum of Australia Gallery Development Stage 1: Life in Australia project. The estimated cost of this project is $20.5 million (excluding GST).
Submissions are listed at Appendix A, and hearings and witnesses are listed at Appendix B.