National

Treasurer Scott Morrison sticks to plan to move public servants out of Canberra

Treasurer Scott Morrison has not backed away from leasing a gleaming new office in a Liberal-held seat in regional NSW.

Treasurer Scott Morrison ventured to the NSW Central Coast last Friday to pledge his commitment to moving up to 600 ...
Treasurer Scott Morrison ventured to the NSW Central Coast last Friday to pledge his commitment to moving up to 600 public servants to Gosford. Photo: Andrew Meares

His stoicism regarding the project comes despite the fact his government needs to get rid of or fill thousands of square metres of office space elsewhere across Australia which is costing tens of millions of dollars annually.

In one of his first trips as Treasurer, Mr Morrison ventured to the NSW Central Coast last Friday to pledge his commitment to moving up to 600 federal public servants to Gosford. 

Most of these workers would be from the Australian Taxation Office, an organisation which had been in the process of consolidating 6500 empty work stations across the nation paid for by taxpayers.  

Many of the 600 jobs were also expected to come from Canberra, but the Coalition's push to reinvigorate the economy of the marginal Liberal-held seat of Robertson was good news for one ACT stakeholder. 

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Canberra-based construction company Doma group has won the contract to construct the new building.

Doma will pay the construction costs while the federal government has committed to leasing the building for 10 years which comes with a $70 million pricetag. 

Mr Morrison said the purpose-built facility would "provide an economic shot in the arm for the Central Coast".

"This is a region that recognises the value of work and the Coalition Government is proud to be backing the people of the coast with significant investments like these that enable them to create more economic opportunities for themselves," he said. 

Robertson MP Lucy Wicks called the new public service building a game-changer. 

"This is a vital step in delivering a significant commitment from the Coalition's positive growth plan for the Central Coast we took to the last election," she said. 

"We will see more jobs, not just in this development but in our cafes, restaurants and small businesses across the Central Coast."

The public servants will be located on an old school site in Mann Street, Gosford.

Mr Morrison promised locals they would see cranes in the sky by 2016 and the building would open in 2017.

The Coalition has quoted economic modelling estimating a further 1400 jobs would be created by the project. 

The Tax Office has been in the process of culling 4700 jobs, which has added to its number of empty desks.

Australian taxpayers are spending $40 million a year on empty offices rented by the federal bureaucracy in Canberra alone as the national capital faces a dire warning its commercial vacancy rate could decline further to become the worst nationally.

Canberra's record amount of vacant office space could become so bad that a fifth of the commercial leasable area across the city might soon be vacant, a major property analyst said in June. 

BIS Shrapnel said the end of federal public service job cuts and a slowdown in developers building new commercial blocks would not fix the nasty problem.

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