Thursday, 19 February 2009

Half a mill for an office is pretty steep

Another sign that our state government is in a death spiral was reporting in the Silly today with the news that a minister is spending $500,000 on an office refit. That's not refitting the offices of all the ministers - just one minister (and presumably his staff).

Now the Silly might be gilding the lily quite substantially here - I once participated in a very nice refit that was good, but not over the top, that cost half a million per floor. And that included new kitchens and bathrooms, carpet, ceiling tiles, lighting and all the phone and computer cabling. There were about 80 staff per floor, and all got new chairs, cubicles, office credenzas, pot plants and so on.

We even got new rubbish bins.

That was some years ago, and prices have presumably gone up a bit, but that was viewed by all and sundry as a very good place to work. There were no offices in this refit - just workstations and lots of meeting rooms - so I guess that helped to keep the cost down. The quality of workstation was nice - but nowhere near as fancy as those installed by the Human Rights Commission, which I'm told installed the most expensive workstations on the market in their old office in Piccadilly.

Now it could be that the reporter from the silly has no idea about how the world works, which would not surprise me, and it could be that the good minister is in fact refitting part or all of a floor for a bus full of staff - in that case, spending half a million would not be completely out of the question, particularly if they are including say the cost of a new phone system and security, or a new air conditioning setup. I did one refit where we had to triple the amount of power coming into the building, and that really bumped up the cost. It's typical of government projects that if they have an old building with say a crappy air conditioning system, instead of putting in a separate project for new air con, they just load it into a refit project like this one.

On the other hand, the minister might be building himself a Taj Mahal. I've seen that too - a refit just for a CEO (with an ego the size of a planet and a massive over-estimation of his self worth) that went into the hundreds of thousands - just for one very, very large office with all the mod cons.

It would be nice if the Silly could actually provide some facts - the number of square feet or metres being refitted, the number of staff the new office will house, the scope of the items being refitted etc - instead of just throwing up a cheap headline. I understand that the Fairfax offices were refitted not so long ago. These journalists that are throwing barbs at the minister were probably harassing management during the refit to provide them with Herman Miller Aeron chairs, which retail for $US1321 each. (and they can be accessorised with a $434 aluminium finish). Or the $US2068 work stools.


An Irritating Truth said...

I would have thought that if they were doing their jobs properly, they wouldn't have time to take notice of the decor, let alone take half a million dollars of tax payers money and spend it on a refurb.

Also we're in the midst of a financial crisis, you don't think they could have waited for fancier leather chairs once the economy has picked up? We're already being asked to make massive financial sacrifices in order to save the economy, and now there's half a mill less to be spent on fixing it.

If they wanted a refurb they should have made salary sacrifices to fund it, or the minister could have paid for it himself.

Epic fail on all accounts regardless of the number of metres squared or the number of people it would benefit.

Anonymous said...

Half a mill is a house in anybody's language. The office had the same spent on it 2 years ago, that makes it $1m of taxpayers'money.

What is so special about draftees and bovver boys like Koperburg and Robertson that they get to spend so much taxpayer money without being called to account?

Fellas, your time is up.