Bendigo Hospital delays ‘wasting money’

DELAYS in building the new Bendigo hospital are wasting taxpayers’ money as the Liberal Party wages war on unions, Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan says.

Ms Allan obtained documents under Freedom of Information that show the Victorian government included the Bendigo hospital plan under its Code of Compliance for the Construction Industry well after the tender process had begun.

The code ruled out one of its tenderers, Lend Lease, from the bid because of an agreement the company signed with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). 

The CFMEU is now challenging the government in court over the incident.

A government spokesman said the code was put in place to “bring an end to the kinds of unlawful practices and consequent cost blowouts for which the Victorian construction industry has been notorious”.

But Ms Allan said the delay and the ban on Lend Lease would be the cause of any cost blowout.

“Every month it’s delayed the building costs increase, (and there is) likely to be at least a five-to-six-month delay on starting.

“Also by banning Lend Lease there’s now only one bidder left in the process who will be able to name their price.”

Ms Allan called for the government to “pull out of the industrial relations warfare”.

“If they (the government) want to have a battle with the union movement through the courts, that’s their choice. 

“But Bendigo’s most important project should not be caught up in that battle, particularly when they have changed the rules after the tender has started.”

A spokesman for the Victorian government said it “would not be appropriate to comment on the details of a tender while the tender is under way”.

“The Victorian government is committed to getting the very best outcome and the very best value for the people of Bendigo and northern Victoria,” he said.

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