A key leader in the building and construction industry in Tasmania has hit out over delays to the start of work on the $584 million redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment, according to media reports.

The ABC has reported that Master Builders Association of Tasmania Chief Executive Officer Michael Kerschbaum has acknowledged the need to avoid cost blowouts on the project but has voiced frustration at the way the project is being run, saying the delay along with uncertainty over the project’s final form and budget has placed builders in limbo and calling on the government to consult with the industry over the redevelopment’s final form.

Demolition work was supposed to start this week, but that has been suspended whilst the new state government seeks advice regarding the project’s future, and Kerschbaum remains frustrated the main contract for construction is yet to be awarded.

“The main contract – being the main build of the contract – hasn’t yet been awarded to a managing contractor, and that part of it hasn’t been tied down, and I think that’s why we’re seeing some major delays on the project,” Mr Kerschbaum was quoted as saying on ABC.

“What we’ve got is industry locked out of the process to date and I know there is a lot of frustration from within industry for us to be able to take over, provide some decent advice, specially at the local level, and take it on because the managing contractor is the one who has the real say in how things progress and has real impact on budgets.

Conceived after a government decision to abandon planning for a brand new hospital in 2009 and following independent Member for Denison Andrew Willkie’s success in securing $340 million in Commonwealth funding in 2010, the redevelopment is one of the state’s biggest ever public infrastructure resource projects but is being increasingly seen by many as being mismanaged and characterised by delays and cost blowouts.

An Auditor-General report released in January found many aspects of the planning had been weak, with too many oversight bodies creating confusion over who was actually in control.

The project has been in doubt following the change of government in March, with neither Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff nor Health Minister Michael Ferguson committing to the full redevelopment – the latter having said the government was forced to call a temporary halt to the project whilst the government works out the details as to what it considers feasible.

Like the building industry, the medical industry is becoming increasingly frustrated about the delays.

Australian Medical Association Tasmania Vice President Tim Greenaway says the current situation is unsustainable and is putting enormous pressure on emergency department beds, whilst Australian Nursing Federation Secretary (Tasmania branch) Nerolli Ellis described an ongoing fight for bed access within the current facility.

 Royal Hobart Hospital