Taxpayers have forked out close to $330,000, including $800 for a doorknob, for a border protection media briefing room that hasn’t been used since its completion 10 months ago.

Construction and fit-out costs for the high-tech theatrette totalled almost $235,000 while the annual cost of having it on stand-by is running at about $100,000.

The government is leasing the premises, next to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's aid office in Canberra, until June 2016.

It is also paying $10,000 a month to hire audio visual equipment on top of a $30,000 bill for rented stage lights, according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information.

The heavily blacked-out documents reveal the facility was ready for media briefings in October 2013, but it has never been used for that purpose.

It is understood the room was intended for Operation Sovereign Borders media briefings presented by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison until late last year.

Instead, the weekly briefings were held at commonwealth offices in Sydney.

The briefings ended in December, coinciding with reports of asylum-seeker boat turn-backs which the government refused to discuss.

In Canberra, Mr Morrison has mostly used Parliament House facilities for border protection-related press conferences.

In mid-July, he launched a national border targeting centre at the Customs and Border Protection headquarters, located across the road from the briefing room.

He addressed reporters after the launch in a Customs room.

The unused media centre has large LED monitors, a projector, spotlights, two podiums with microphones, audio splitters and space to fit four television camera tripods and seating for 20 journalists.

Invoices show $800 was spent on a single doorknob.

In a statement Customs said that cost was for "large metal grab handles fixed to both the inside and the outside of a glass panel door".

It also claimed the annual operating cost of the room for 2014/15 would be around $37,000 and it would continue to be used for internal meetings and as a media conference venue as needed.

By Lisa Martin
  • What a disgrace!!!
    Who is responsible for this?
    Cut sevices and jobs but don't cut Government wastage.
    The Government doesn't have a clue on how to run efficiently or cost effectively.
    As long as they have all the flash expensive goodies – we, the voters don't matter!!!

    • finished 10 months ago – I guess the responsibility lies with the previous government. Locked in until 2016, again something that was probably done by the previous government!

  • I don't care which Government is in, this kind of extravagent spending is a waste of tax payers money, especially when existing office spaces are being used for these purposes. Why pay rent on equipment that MIGHT be used! Out here in the real world we pay for per use. My philosophy is that if it is a Government job, just add an extra zero to the price!

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