Labor is deeply concerned at the latest revelations today surrounding the Palmerston Hospital construction site. It’s time to call in the Auditor-General to investigate how this debacle occurred.
Today’s NT News reports that:
- the concrete pour was under a proposed car park, and not, as claimed for a “central stairwell”.
- the work was completed without proper construction permits
- subcontractors have not yet even been appointed to survey the site.
When Labor last week questioned why $56 million has been paid to the NT Government despite no evidence of any meaningful work at the site the CLP Member for Solomon Natasha Griggs accused Labor of:
“making outrageous claims of fraud by the Commonwealth which is another lie.”
Natasha Griggs, Federation Chamber, 22 October 2015
Now, the Member for Solomon has done a backflip worthy of Olympic high diving, siding with Labor to denounce the concrete pour as “an orchestrated stunt”.
However, the member’s attempt to deflect blame on to her CLP colleagues has been dismissed by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles who has told local radio “Natasha has been involved in all the project briefings and fully briefed and informed.”
Today’s reports only serve to reinforce Labor’s request for the Auditor-General to conduct a performance audit into investigate the Palmerston Hospital Project, including the role of the Northern Territory Government.
Labor remains a strong supporter of the Palmerston Hospital project, having committed $110 million for the hospital at the 2013 election. It is deeply disappointing though that already months behind schedule, the CLP continues to refuse to take this project seriously.
Despite promises by the CLP that construction would begin in 2014, the only work that has occurred at the site appears to have been a hole being dug, part filled with concrete, cameras invited for a media event with the CLP Minister, and then the hole filled over.
In spite of this, Department of Health officials last week told Senate Estimates they have accepted evidence from the NT Government that work on the site has commenced, clearing the way for a $35 million payment.
With Darwin Hospital close to capacity and Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals ripping over $600 million out of the Territory’s public hospitals over the next decade, Territorians cannot afford these stunts.
The Territory desperately needs Palmerston Hospital right now, but due to the CLP’s negligence and incompetence, it will be years before the first patient is treated.