Inquiry into Perth Children's Hospital fiasco

An inquiry is to take place into what is arguably Australia’s greatest ever public building disaster.

 

DETAILS of an inquiry into the Perth Children’s Hospital lead fiasco have been revealed, as pressure mounts on the McGowan Government to consider replacing all brass fittings or risk “having a hospital that never opens”.

To be chaired by Labor MP Tony Buti, the parliamentary inquiry will investigate the hospital project’s governance, the quality of building products and the risks associated with granting practical completion before the project’s problems were resolved.

Hearings will be held next month.

The State’s construction union, the CFMEU, and the Master Plumbers Association both claimed the latest lead contamination results released on Friday showed the McGowan Government was “clutching at straws” by continuing to rely on band-aid solutions to the lead problem.

The CFMEU called on the Government to “bite the bullet” and give serious consideration to replacing all brass fittings, estimated to be more than 5000, many of which are in the walls.

The union claimed most problems plaguing the hospital, whose completion has been delayed since November 2015, were likely to be traced back to inferior imported products.

The $1.2 billion project has been hit by numerous construction problems, including excess lead levels in drinking water and asbestos in building materials.

The Building Commission remains tight-lipped about its investigations into possible non-compliance of firewalls.

CFMEU State secretary Mick Buchan said there was a broader issue of insufficient government resources to properly assess imported construction materials when they came into the country.

“We’re concerned we could end up with a hospital that never opens, they need to bite the bullet here,” Mr Buchan said.

He said he was meeting with the Department of Health tomorrow to seek answers about the firewalls. Any non-compliant walls would need to be ripped apart and redone.

Mr Buchan said the inquiry’s scope should be expanded to include how the contract was originally considered.

“This concept that the lowest tender wins the day is a model that fails. It doesn’t work,” he said.

Mr Buchan said the committee was likely to be swamped with submissions, which could push out its July 28 deadline.

Master Plumbers executive director Murray Thomas said more transparency was needed to reveal the origin of building materials.

Mr Thomas said extensive “destructive” testing of brass fittings was also needed, which involved melting down the components for full analysis.