Works on new Bendigo Hospital delayed

CONSTRUCTION of the new Bendigo Hospital could be months away, despite a state government timetable outlining plans for construction work to start in December 2012.

The new Bendigo Hospital project’s invitation for expressions of interest from September 2011 indicated that construction would start before the end of this year.

But Health Minister David Davis said last Thursday that the government was still waiting on the final phase of negotiations for tender.

Mr Davis said the two short-listed consortia would be asked in January to submit “updated proposals in a short, sharp, best and final offer phase.” A decision would follow about six weeks later. 

Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said plans for the new hospital were in “disarray” and construction was now months behind schedule.

“This timeline confirms that the project is months behind schedule and work will not start until well into 2013,” she said.

Ms Allan criticised the timing of the announcement and said it was an “admission of failure”.

“Sneaking out this new timeline between Christmas and New Year shows a deep lack of respect for the local community... This delay puts great pressure on the planned completion date of 2016. There is no way the local community can take Minister Davis at his word that Bendigo’s new hospital will be completed by then.”

The minister has declined to comment on whether Lend Lease’s deal with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has affected its eligibility to win the bid.

But Mr Davis confirmed that the tender documents required bidders to comply with the Victorian government’s new implementation guidelines to the Victorian Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry.

Ms Allan accused the government of ducking the question of whether Lend Lease was in or out.

Mr Davis said he would not speculate on whether Intecare would automatically get the tender if Lend Lease refused to end its  agreement with the CFMEU.

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