The Hon Gary Gray AO
Special Minister of State
Minister for the Public Service and Integrity
Member for Brand
17 December 2012
Special Minister of State Gary Gray said today refurbishment work on The Lodge will be deferred until the end of 2013.
“Research and investigations conducted by the architects and the age and condition of the building, mean that the refurbishment and conservation works are likely to encounter significant technical challenges,” Mr Gray said.
“Subsequently, it has become apparent that the refurbishment project will take longer to complete than originally anticipated.”
The replacement of the slate roof on the heritage-listed building, the primary official home of Prime Ministers since 1927, was scheduled to start in April.
The Lodge is regularly used to host Australian and foreign dignitaries as well as for charitable purposes.
In May this year, the firm HBO+EMTB Architects (ACT) Pty Ltd was awarded the design services contract. No other contract has been let and Mr Gray said he did not expect the deferral to add significantly to costs.
“There is a high probability that ‘latent conditions’ - technical challenges usually found in heritage work of this nature - will be encountered,” Mr Gray said. “It is important to preserve the iconic heritage values of The Lodge for future generations. However, the health and safety of residents, visitors and staff is paramount.”
The Government will continue to meet its ongoing property management responsibilities in the intervening period until the refurbishment project commences. Necessary repairs and maintenance works will be undertaken as usual.
The proposed refurbishment works will include replacement of the deteriorating slate roof and upgrading essential services, such as 1920s cotton-covered electrical wiring, removal and remediation of potentially hazardous asbestos-containing materials, replacement and repair of leaking and rusty plumbing as well as updating fire protection systems.
“The detailed design and tendering process for The Lodge is yet to be completed, so I have decided that the sensible and practical thing to do is to defer these renovations,” Mr Gray said.
“I have written to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to advise them of the decision.
“It is very important that the refurbishment work is properly scoped and undertaken, not only for the safety and amenity of occupants, visitors and staff, but also to ensure that the heritage values of this iconic building are preserved.”
The project remains subject to normal Commonwealth probity processes, including scrutiny by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
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