A Victorian State Budget delivers a massive hidden blow to Architecture

The 2022-23 Victorian State Budget was released on Tuesday afternoon by the Victorian Treasurer.

The Institute was advised late on Tuesday that, in the fine print of Budget Paper No. 3 – Services Delivery,  the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s core funding line item for the Office of the Victorian Government Architect has been cut to nearly half from $1.3m per annum to $700K per annum. This will essentially leave the OVGA with the Government Architect and a small secretariat. It places at risk the entire Victorian Government Design Review Panel of some 90 architects, urban designers and landscape architects.

An independent economist’s review conducted in 2021 showed that the OVGA had delivered approximately $20 million dollars of savings in reducing risks on 187 significant projects valued at $25 billion. Since the OVGA was commissioned in 2006, with John Denton as the inaugural government architect, it has developed a model of design review which has been replicated in other states and territories and is being established by some Victorian councils for projects not of state significance.

The most difficult aspect to understand is that this comes at a time when the OVGA will be needed more than ever with some of the largest infrastructure spends underway in Victoria with further expansions and initiatives announced in yesterday’s State Budget. This includes the announced $2.6 billion dollars for infrastructure and housing for Victoria’s hosting of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The Victorian Chapter has expressed its dismay and opposition to this deleterious measure in a media release.

In the media

The Institute is continuing to actively engage with government and media on this extremely important matter.

On 6 May 2022, Victorian Chapter President Bill Kritouris was interviewed on 774 ABC Radio Melbourne presenter Virginia Trioli.

Listen to the interview at the ABC Radio website. The 6 minute interview begins at 53:31 on the program recording.

Photographer: John Torcasio

2022-23 Victorian State Budget expendiure summary for Institute members

Through the budget the Victorian Government has pre-announced its building reform Stage 1 recommendations, that have yet to be released. It is also investing in planning improvements. In addition, a number of announced new initiatives or expansions of existing initiatives will directly interest many members as they provide a pipleline of further government procurement opportunities.  In summary these outlays across services outputs and capital include:

  • $25.6 million for building reforms in 2022-23 and 2024-25
  • $9.6 million in planning and heritage improvements for 2022-23
  • $1.9 billion for new or upgraded health facilities
  • $1.8 billion for 13 new schools and 65 mainstream and special schools upgrades
  • $2.6 billion for the 2026 Commonwealth games infrastructure and housing.
  • $1 billion in low interest loans and government guarantees for community housing.

Building reforms

$25.6 million funding over two years is provided for the Victorian Building Authority to:

  • establish a new Office of the State Building Surveyor to ensure buildings are consistently well-built, safe and fit for purpose.
  • establish a Building Monitor, supported by staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, to improve the consumer experience by advocating for domestic building consumers and reporting on emerging issues.
  • introduce additional measures to strengthen the building approvals process, including a risk-based targeted inspection audit.
  • implement automatic mutual recognition in Victoria.

Planning and heritage improvements

  • $1.6 million funding is provided in 2022-23 to develop a framework to ensure consistency in planning and decision-making within Melbourne’s metropolitan and major activity centres, meeting Plan Melbourne objectives. In addition, regional growth plans will be updated to support the population growth that occurred during COVID-19, developing an integrated approach to associated changes in infrastructure provision, jobs growth and regional city development.
  • $2.2 million funding is provided in 2022-23 to maintain the land and buildings at Jacksons Hill, Sunbury, while the associated master plan and land divestment strategy are delivered.
  • $6.0 million funding is provided in 2022-23 to the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) to continue to support precinct planning for high-priority areas to maintain the pipeline of land supply in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Health

New major investments in health infrastructure include:

  • $0.9–$1.0 billion to construct the new Melton Hospital.
  • $500–$525 million for the Barwon Women’s and Children’s Hospital to expand maternity, women’s and paediatric services including operating theatres, a Maternity Assessment and Short Stay Unit, birthing suites and a Special Care Nursery.
  • $300 million for the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund to renew and upgrade our regional and rural health services.
  • $140 million for three new Public Sector Residential Aged Care Facilities in Camperdown, Mansfield and Orbost
  • $236 million to expand the capacity of the emergency departments at the Casey Hospital and the Werribee Mercy Hospital.
  • $29 million to transition Frankston Private Hospital into a public surgery centre.
  • $25 million to establish Rapid Access Hubs across seven metropolitan public hospitals.
  • $196 million to replace and expand the existing mental health facility at Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton to provide acute and community mental health services.
  • $124 million to deliver supporting infrastructure, better facilities and care for the most vulnerable Victorians needing treatment at the Thomas Embling Hospital. This builds on the $350 million invested in the 2021-22 Budget.
  • Funding is also provided to purchase land and undertake further planning to deliver additional acute mental health beds in regional Victoria.

Education

  • $1.6 billion provided for new schools, upgrades to existing schools and maintenance. The following additional 13 new schools will be built to open in 2024:
    • Aintree Secondary School (Interim Name)
    • Aintree Specialist School (Interim Name)
    • Alexander Boulevard Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Black Forest East Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Brookfield Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Lockerbie Central Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Lollypop Creek Secondary School (Interim Name)
    • Lollypop Creek Specialist School (Interim Name)
    • Merrifield South Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Officer Brunt Road Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Riverdale Secondary School (Interim Name)
    • Tarneit North Primary School (Interim Name)
    • Truganina North Primary School (Interim Name)
  • Twenty-nine mainstream schools across Victoria will receive funding for upgrades to improve educational outcomes and provide high-quality classrooms and facilities for learning and community use.
  • Thirty-six special schools will receive funding for capital upgrades as follows:
    • Aurora School
    • Bass Coast Specialist School
    • Belvoir Wodonga Special Developmental School
    • Bendigo Special Developmental School
    • Berendale School and Katandra School (merger)
    • Broadmeadows Special Developmental School
    • Burwood East Special Developmental School
    • Cobram and District Specialist School
    • Croydon Special Developmental School
    • Dandenong Valley Special Developmental School
    • East Gippsland Specialist School
    • Eastern Ranges School
    • Glenroy Specialist School
    • Hamlyn Views School
    • Hampden Specialist School
    • Hume Valley School
    • Jennings Street School
    • Merriang Special Developmental School
    • Mildura Specialist School
    • Montague Continuing Education Centre
    • Mornington Special Developmental School
    • Naranga School
    • Nelson Park School
    • Northern School for Autism
    • Officer Specialist School
    • Peninsula Specialist College
    • Skene Street School Stawell
    • South Gippsland Specialist School
    • Springvale Park Special Developmental School
    • Swan Hill Specialist School
    • Verney Road School
    • Waratah Special Developmental School
    • Warragul and District Specialist School
    • Warringa Park School
    • Western Autistic School.

Housing

Up to a further $1 billion will be made available in low interest loans and government guarantees to community housing agencies to deliver social and affordable housing. This will facilitate up to 6,000 new social and affordable housing dwellings, providing accommodation for some of the most vulnerable Victorians as well as key workers.

Other

  • $17 million to improve public access to a range of iconic heritage and tourism sites across the state. This funding enables safety and building improvements to the Werribee Park Mansion, Point Nepean Forts and Lighthouses at Cape Otway, Cape Schanck, Point Hicks and Wilsons Promontory
  • $47 million to build a replacement fit-for-purpose 24-hour South Melbourne police station and to build a new police station in Point Cook
  • $9.0 million for CFA stations and Victorian Emergency Management Training Centres to support gender diversity including new changing facilities.