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Power: Minister Unhappy At Extra $12m For New Court

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Simon Power
Simon Power

16 December 2008 - Justice Minister Simon Power says he will run "an iron ruler" over the cost of Wellington's new Supreme Court building after being told the Government has inherited a $12 million increase on the project.

"The Ministry of Justice has informed me that under Labour the cost of building the Supreme Court and restoring the old High Court building has jumped from an estimated $65.1 million in 2006 to $80.7 million," Mr Power says.

Up to $12 million of additional funding is required to meet this shortfall, with the balance being absorbed by the Ministry of Justice. The primary driver of the increase is costs associated with renovating the old building.

The original intention was to just restore the old High Court to house the Supreme Court, at an estimated cost of $19.25 million. However, the Labour Government decided on the joint project because it was decided the old building did not meet the requirements of the Supreme Court and could not be modified because of its Category 1 historic status.

"It's clear the previous Government's decision to restore the old building and to, at the same time, build a purpose-built new building has resulted in a project and a cost that is way more than what just a stand-alone building would have cost.

"I'm extremely unhappy about this, but it seems the building is too far advanced to do anything other than to ensure there is no further increase in costs.

"I'm certainly not impressed that at a time when people are having to reduce their personal spending due to the economic crisis, the Government is having to fork out even more taxpayer money to complete this building.

"This is not what we would prefer to be spending extra money on at this time.

"But taxpayers can rest assured I will be running an iron ruler over this project from here on to ensure that not one extra cent than is absolutely necessary is spent.

"I have made my views clear to Ministry of Justice officials, and I have sought an assurance from them and they have assured me that everything possible will be done to contain costs."

Mr Power says part of that process will be a review by independent quantity surveyors in February as to how costs are tracking. Their report is expected by March.

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