Financial sinkhole? ASIO's new headquarters in Canberra. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
ASIO doesn't expect to occupy its controversial Parkes headquarters until mid next year, even though it has begun dismantling the barbed-wire-capped fence surrounding the building.
The spy agency has said previously the wire fence would come down when the Ben Chifley Building on Constitution Avenue was occupied. The fence has been coming down since Monday afternoon.
ASIO says the building has now reached ''practical completion''.
Workers removing part of the fence at the new ASIO headquarters in Parkes. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
"It has now become part of the property portfolio that the Department of Finance manages on behalf of the Commonwealth. The building has now been handed over to ASIO as the tenant," the agency said.
ASIO's website says the five-storey building has enough floor space for 1800 people.
Industry forecaster BIS Shrapnel's senior project manager, Christian Schilling, says public service statistical bulletins and other sources indicate ASIO has about 1150 staff in Canberra.
"Having 40,000 square metres for 1150 people, it sounds like overkill unless other tenants are going to move in," Mr Schilling said.
The spy agency says the Australian Cyber Security Centre will be a co-tenant.
ASIO says it needs three months to complete the fitout, after which staff can move in.
"The duration of the relocation is based on its complexity and the requirements for ASIO to continue to perform its security intelligence responsibilities throughout the move," the agency said.
Campbell resident Andrew Schuller, one of several residents to question the lack of consultation on the building from when it was first planned, expects the impact of the overscaled office block to worsen over time, when lights are left on in the 24-hour a day headquarters.
"The sun is shining on it now, so it is very bright,'' Mr Schuller, who lives in a street above the headquarters, said.
"They haven't yet started leaving the lights on at night, but it looms over, because it is floodlit it is very prominent."
Mr Schuller said residents' views of Old Parliament House, Parliament House and the High Court had been blocked. "I can still see the flagpole of the Parliament House."
North Canberra Community Council chairman Mike Hettinger said the building was oddly placed, and the barbed-wire fence had been the icing on the cake of a distasteful development.
"If it had of been a Canberra development we would have asked more questions. We have been shut out,'' Mr Hettinger said.