Bendigo hospital questions still unanswered

Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, will lodge a Freedom of Information request in a bid to get answers from Liberal Health Minister, David Davis, over the Bendigo Hospital tender fiasco.

The state government has remained tight-lipped about the new Bendigo Hospital project since Lend Lease, a member of one of the two consortia bidding for the $630 million development, was banned from all government jobs after signing an agreement with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. 

It’s not known what that means for the project. 

The Bendigo Advertiser has contacted Health Minister David Davis’ staff on several occasions to clarify the situation and has sent through questions. 

A statement sent from Mr Davis’ office said complying with codes was part of the tender process but that he wouldn’t comment on individual projects. 

The Bendigo Advertiser asked Mr Davis if the Lend Lease consortia had been recommended as a preferred builder for the project, if the second consortia would be declared the winner if Lend Lease kept its deal with CFMEU and if the project would be put back to tender. 

The Bendigo Advertiser also asked if there would be more delays and cost blowouts, if Bendigo would have to accept an inferior design, why the government was concerned by the CFMEU’s potential involvement and if the process could have been better handled. The questions were not responded to. 

But Master Builders Association executive director Brian Welch said it was up to the CFMEU to change its position. 

“The CFMEU had the common sense to amend the agreement (of a past job) to make sure they were compliant,” he said. 

“They didn’t want to risk their employees losing their jobs over compliance issues. 

“That was then and this is now. It seems the CFMEU is not willing to amend their agreements, which would sort this problem out.”

Mr Welch said the government had made its policy and it was up to Lend Lease and the CFMEU to comply. 

Local ALP Members of Parliament Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards called on the government to explain the issue. 

“So far the minister has shown complete disregard for the local community by refusing to answer questions about the future of the new Bendigo Hospital,” Ms Allan said.

“The tender process is in complete disarray with the Liberal National Government knocking out one of the two bidders after changing the rules after the tender process had started.

“There are legitimate questions that have been posed through the Advertiser that need and should be answered.

“As minister David Davis has refused to answer questions, I will be lodging an FOI request for all briefings and correspondence to the minister on Lend Lease being knocking out the Bendigo Hospital tender.

“The cost of the new hospital is set to blow to kingdom come and the project, already delayed, could face greater delays thanks to the mess created by the Liberal National Government.

“It’s just not good enough that they continue to duck and weave on the most important project in Bendigo’s history.”

Editorial - Thumbs down to Bendigo Hospital's murky tender process

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