A multi-million-dollar project at Melbourne’s Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital may be at risk because of a $30 million blow-out after the building was found to be “riddled with asbestos”.
The $169 million redevelopment, due to be completed in 2017, has been thrown into chaos after the asbestos was found.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said there was no way it would be completed in 2017 and the project was in “a whole heap of trouble” because the building was “riddled with asbestos”.
She said the building needed to be made safe for patients and staff.
“The planning wasn’t done correctly, the risks weren’t identified correctly, and there simply wasn’t enough money for contingency,” she said.
“We’ve got to get a handle on it and make some pretty challenging decisions going forward.”
The State Government has commissioned an independent report on how to fix the problem which is due to be completed in four weeks.
Opposition health spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge, the former health minister, said the hospital redevelopment was an “important project for Victorians” and the Government needed to “get on with the work” to make sure the project was completed.
Ms Wooldridge said there was “extensive work” done on the problem in the early stages of the planning.
“Some of these old buildings do have further issues that are identified on the way through,” she said.
“But the asbestos has been now found and is still being found as further parts of the building are opened up.”
Ms Wooldridge said the Government had known about the problem for some time and extended the completion date six months ago.
“In fact their budget papers in May this year identified an 18-month increase in the time frame to get the project completed,” she said.
“It’s astounding that the State Government still have no plan and still don’t know how they’re going to progress this project.”
She said the Government needed to “stop dithering”.
“Fund the project and make sure it’s delivered for Victorians,” she said.