Victorian Health Minister David Davis has claimed the need for “absolute probity” prevented the state government from releasing detail of the $630 million Bendigo Hospital tender process.
The Bendigo Advertiser sent several questions to the state government on Tuesday after it enforced a code that banned anyone with a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union agreement from winning state work.
Intecare and Exemplar are the consortia shortlisted to build the new hospital.
Lend Lease, the builder at the centre of the Exemplar bid, has a CFMEU agreement.
The Bendigo Advertiser believes the new hospital working party has recommended the Exemplar hospital design to the state government with the bid considered far superior to any other.
But Mr Davis late yesterday declined to confirm the state government had received any recommendation.
“We’ve had no formal advice and the process is proceeding with careful and methodical assessment,” he said.
“When advice is provided to me, I will make formal recommendations to government and they will quickly become public at that point.”
Mr Davis said he could assure the community precise legal and technical assessments of every aspect of both bids were being carried out to ensure a fair process.
“The process is proceeding steadily, relentlessly and a recommendation will come to me and, ultimately, government,” he said.
“Clearly, the assessments that are made have to be factual and accurate and undertaken by the appropriate experts in each area.
“A final decision will be made on the facts and careful assessment of merits of each bid.”
Mr Davis said he was determined that every piece of probity was observed.
“These are major consortia that have put together complex bids and the primary criteria that I will look at, of course, is the best hospital that we can get for Bendigo,” he said.
Mr Davis would not speculate on whether Intecare would automatically get the tender if Lend Lease refused to end the CFMEU agreement.
He also declined to comment on whether Bendigo would lose a “far superior” design if Lend Lease was banned or the dangers posed by CFMEU involvement in the Bendigo Hospital project.
“We have major consortia bidding and a live tender process in operation, so my role is to ensure the process is run within the rules and the assessments are fair and the recommendations are ultimately brought forward within the constraints of probity,” he said.
Mr Davis did comment on the scheduled 2016 completion date for the hospital project.
“The government is committed to this project in all its aspects.”