25/03/2010 - 00:00

Costs hit public projects

25/03/2010 - 00:00


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SPENDING on public venues has been a major issue for the state government in recent months, with cost blowouts and construction delays taking the shine off the new venues being built.

Costs hit public projects

SPENDING on public venues has been a major issue for the state government in recent months, with cost blowouts and construction delays taking the shine off the new venues being built.

Perhaps the most contentious public venue spending this year has been the construction of the 14,000-seat Perth Arena.

Following a scathing review from the state Auditor General Colin Murphy early this month, Treasurer Troy Buswell said the final bill for Perth Arena could top $500 million and would not be completed until April 2012.The venue was originally budgeted to cost $160 million and be completed by January 2009.

Mr Murphy said the project was not properly scoped or planned, and that key parts of the normal processes were either skipped or rushed.

Mr Buswell responded by saying the project was hopelessly mismanaged from the start by the previous Labor government.

Following the Auditor General’s report, the builder, BGC, lodged a claim for $53 million in extra costs, taking the total cost of the project to $536 million.

In January, Sports and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron officially opened the WA Basketball Centre at AK Reserve in Perry Lakes without a key tenant.

But in better news for the facility’s operator, Venues West, Basketball WA held a closing ceremony for Perry Lakes Stadium on March 21, and will complete the move of its operations to the new facility by the end of the month.

The $40 million eight-court basketball facility is the second stage of the redevelopment of the Perry Lakes sporting precinct and sits alongside the WA Athletics Stadium.

The third stage will include a rugby facility on adjacent land.

The combined cost of the athletics stadium, basketball centre and supporting infrastructure was $73.4 million.

Plans from the state government to upgrade ME Bank stadium in East Perth to a 25,000-seat capacity have hit a speed bump, as the Town of Vincent believes the stadium would be best managed under the current private agreement with Allia Venue Management.

A spokesperson for Mr Waldron said last week no offer had been made to the council to take control of the ground, and the government was “negotiating a range of different approaches”.

The government is expected to reveal construction timelines, design concepts and full costing for the venue upgrade in August.

In December, Premier Colin Barnett promised a new multi-purpose stadium would be built at Subiaco if Australia wins the hosting rights to the 2018 or 2022 soccer World Cup.

Mr Barnett flagged a progressive rebuild of Subiaco, which would cost more than the $450 million spent by the South Australian government to rebuild the Adelaide Oval, but significantly less than the $1 billion figure originally budgeted for a new stadium by the Carpenter government.

In the arts, construction at the $42 million State Theatre Centre in Northbridge is on schedule, and an opening date of midway through 2010 is expected.

The venue features a 575-seat theatre named after late actor Heath Ledger, a 200-seat performance studio, and a multi-purpose outdoor space.

In December, the Department of Culture and the Arts and Perth Theatre Trust began planning for opening events later this year.

The state government has experienced a smoother ride in planning its urban renewal projects across the CBD.

In December, Mr Barnett, Planning Minister John Day, Tourism Minister Liz Constable and Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi unveiled the Liberal-National government’s version of redevelopment plans for Perth’s waterfront.

The centrepiece of the $250 million 10-hectare development will be a 2.8ha inlet bordered by shops, cafes and restaurants, with more than 60 per cent of the total project area accessible to the public.

Building the waterfront development is due to coincide with the $468 million Northbridge Link plan.

The link project involves sinking the Fremantle rail line from Perth station to Lake Street, creating an 11,000 square metre public square.

In total, 4.25ha of the land has been allocated for public use.

The East Perth Redevelopment Authority estimated at least $2 billion of public and private money would be invested in the Northbridge Link, while the Commonwealth has committed to contribute $236 million.

In July last year, Planning Minister John Day signed off on a scheme amendment to progress the 40ha Riverside project at the eastern end of the CBD.

The state is investing $130 million in the development, while private investment is estimated to reach $750 million.

Belmont-based Diploma Group announced earlier this year it had won a $110 million contract forstage one of the Queens Riverside building on behalf of Frasers Property.

The development will comprise three-storey townhouses along Hay Street and mixed-use developments up to 23-storeys along Adelaide Terrace.




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