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Leighton not out of race

LEIGHTON Contractors still have a slim chance of snaring the contract to build Perth’s Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The WA Government has given the Multiplex consortium’s bid its blessing but no contracts will be signed until September.

However, public opinion is turning from the Multiplex design and towards the one proposed by Leighton.

Leighton’s proposed design was created by Pritzkin Prize winning architect Lord Norman Foster.

It is believed to have rated highly in the aesthetic category of the Government’s convention centre assessment process.

While a spokesman for Tourism Minister Norman Moore said there was no chance the Government would change its mind, the public has not had a chance to see the designs proposed by the other two bidders.

The Government said that was due to commercial confidentiality concerns rather than any attempt to be secretive.

Public opinion could become a major issue give this is an election year.

The WA Opposition has complained about the lack of public consultation on a project involving $110 million of public money.

Mr Moore said he could not believe the negative approach of the Opposition to the convention centre.

Opposition Tourism Spokesman Mark McGowan said he had not been given an opportunity to see all three options.

City Vision chairman Ken Adam said those that had seen all three proposed designs believed that the Leighton proposal was superior.

“I think the Multiplex design is a disappointment. It does not capitalise on an opportunity to join the city and the river together. It creates another barrier in a way,” Mr Adam said.

He said the Multiplex proposal was not a unified design.

“The Multiplex proposal is actually three or four buildings jumbled together,” he said.

“That is disconcerting in a very big building.”

Mr Adam said Leighton had considered environmental concerns.

“Their proposal used Perth’s prevailing south-westerly winds for cooling and ventilation. They also gave consideration to protecting nearby public open space.”

Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass said he had wanted an iconic structure for the Swan River and what Multiplex proposed was definitely not that.

“But what convention centre is an icon?” Dr Nattrass asked.

“It is fair to say the design of this final option will probably undergo some massaging.”

The Multiplex Consortium was chosen because the financial

package was considered superior.

It had proposed to build the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre for $310 million.

However, it is understood about $100 million of that is to build a hotel on the Westralia Square site owned by Kerry Packer’s Consolidated Press.

That leaves $210 million for the convention centre and soccer

stadium. The Government will contribute $110 million.

The Multiplex proposal also allowed the Government to retain control of the land after 35 years.

A spokesman for Mr Moore said due to probity issues the Government could not defend its decision till at least July 17.

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