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Three tables for $100k? That's good value, says the government

ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher.

ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Jay Cronan

The ACT government spent almost $100,000 on three tables for Canberra's adult mental health unit.

The opposition has attacked the purchase of the custom-made furniture, saying ACT taxpayer funds could have been better spent on other much-needed resources for the service.

The specially designed tables for the dining room and reception area cost $30,900 each.

Health Minister Katy Gallagher, in response to a question on notice from a Legislative Assembly committee, said the tables were a non-standard design, made from solid, heavy materials "to meet consumer safe and durable design criteria".

Ms Gallagher said the tables featured a very heavy top and solid spotted gum legs "to ensure the robustness and heaviness required".

Opposition health spokesman Jeremy Hanson said $31,000 was a lot to pay for a table.

"Given the recent issues surrounding the adult mental health unit this is an extraordinary amount of money to spend on a piece of furniture," he said.

"The government now needs to reveal the reason behind spending this amount of tax payer's funds on a dining table."

But ACT Health director general Dr Peggy Brown said the seven-by-seven-metre tables had to meet special requirements at the unit.

She added that the price compared quite favourably to other custom-made pieces of furniture.

"It is a very large table and also, quite clearly, in that environment it needs to be made so that it's very solid, very heavy and not able to be turned over and used as a weapon or anything like that," she said.

"For that reason it had to be custom made and it's not a standard design.

"What we were looking for was that it was safe and durable."

Dr Brown said the directorate had also tried to furnish the unit with items that added to the therapeutic environment and did not look institutional.

"I personally think, yes, it's a substantial amount of money but it's a piece of furniture that will be there for a very long time and is built to last," she said.

"I think you would find it would compare quite favourably to a custom piece of furniture of that size."

38 comments so far

  • This is absurd. I have seen excellent furniture, including large, solid tables, at places like Ex-Government Office Furniture. But really, you have to wonder whether any effort was made to find something suitable for less.

    Date and time
    July 24, 2013, 2:01PM
    • Unless the tables are extremely large like cabinet tables then it is a waste. If so it is just another example of pollies living in a different world to the rest of us. And don't kid yourselves that the other idiots wouldn't do the sane.

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 10:25AM
    • To everyone reading this article, if this bothers you, send the Health Minister an email telling her that: gallagher AT

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 11:08AM
    • @Pollyho - isn't 7x7m (as stated in the story) a big table?

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 12:30PM
  • Surely this is just another prime example of the ACT Green Labor government continually treating all ACT citizens as fools and idiots.
    And this bunch of alleged politicians keeps screaming poor, any bloody wonder.

    Date and time
    July 24, 2013, 2:16PM
    • The left lives in such a dream-state that they'll probably argue this isn't enough and they should have spent more on the 3 tables.

      That's the trouble with governments elected by entitled public servants.

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 12:34PM
  • As a maker of custom furniture, often of rare and expensive timbers, this is absolutely OBSCENE.

    A commission involving rare African and European timbers, even 300 year old French oak, with elaborate and hand cut joinery would come nowhere near this.

    The makers of these tables must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Date and time
    July 24, 2013, 2:24PM
    • If they are worried about it being flipped over ect then why not just secure it to the ground. Does this not make more sense than spending 31,000 per table?

      Date and time
      July 24, 2013, 2:29PM
      • As someone that struggles daily with mental health issues and can't afford the psychiatric help that is required, its comforting to know that Minister Gallagher can hold her head high and justify the abhorrent spend mentioned above. You should be ashamed of yourself Minister trying to justify this. One must ask is there any association existing between the maker and purchaser of said assets, or was an appropriate tender for 3 tables totalling $100,000 sought.
        Wise spend people.

        Date and time
        July 24, 2013, 2:29PM
        • A table big and heavy enough so as not to be used as a weapon.
          One does wonder if the chairs and other furniture are of the same capabilities?
          Maybe this $100,000 is only the tip of the iceberg.
          Minister Gallagher also commented on the long life of these tables. Being a locally elected government the tables will only last until the next fit-out.
          Another waste of our taxes.
          ps. What happened to the method of bolt down furniture ?

          Concerned Citizen
          Date and time
          July 24, 2013, 4:49PM

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