Australian taxpayers are likely to wear a $1 million blowout in the cost of moving the Gillard Government’s climate change bureaucracy, largely associated with the collapse of an engineering group of companies.
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) had budgeted $20.5 million towards the cost of fitting out its new office accommodation in the ‘Nishi’ green building in Canberra, with taxpayers locked into a 15-year $158 million lease.
Under questioning from Senator Simon Birmingham in Senate Estimates today, officials confirmed that the actual cost would be up to $21.16 million and that DCCEE had ‘joined the creditors’ seeking reimbursement of losses through the collapse of the Hastie Group.
The Hastie Group went into administration in May 2012, despite having been the nation’s biggest provider of air conditioning and refrigeration systems for office towers, apartment blocks and hospitals.
DCCEE Assistant Secretary Graham Tanton said $497,000 of the budget blowout is associated with the Hastie Group’s collapse.
“With the Hastie collapse, we’ve actually joined the creditors for the builders and we’re still waiting to go through that creditors’ process,” Mr Tanton told today’s Estimates hearing.
“From what I’m hearing at the moment, I don’t think there’ll be much coming back through that process.”
“Labor policies including the carbon tax are increasing pressure on many businesses,” Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham said today.
“Now it seems that taxpayers are being bitten twice, with taxpayers facing exposure to losses incurred in the collapse of a business such as the Hastie Group.
“The creation of the new climate change headquarters under Labor has come with such a huge price tag that many will sadly be unsurprised by another blowout at the final stages.”