Resolution to Ararat jail expansion chaos

WORK on the Ararat prison expansion is set to resume after the State Government reached an agreement with two banks under a new public-private partnership agreement.

The agreement to secure delivery of the $400 million project is with the Commonwealth Bank and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Sub-contractors will paid what they are owed in coming weeks.

Premier Ted Baillieu announced this afternoon the prison was expected to be finished by the end of 2014.

It was originally set to be completed by December this year.

“We thank the subcontractors and the people of Ararat for their patience,'' he said.

See Monday's Mail-Times for more.

(From earlier)

THE Ararat community and groups involved with the city's prison redevelopment continue to wait for a decision about the troubled project.

The State Government gave Aegis, the consortium behind the project, until Tuesday night to present a proposition.

But as of yesterday afternoon the government had not made any announcements about the project or whether it would go ahead.

The $350-million redevelopment went into limbo in May after the construction group responsible, St Hilliers Construction, went into voluntary administration.

St Hilliers Ararat part of a consortium contracted to the project also went into liquidation, leaving several Wimmera contractors and sub-contractors unpaid and out of work.

The consortium was placed in administration in June.

In Wednesday's Mail-Times Ararat business leaders expressed their disappointment about the project and the effects it had on their businesses.

Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Andrew Evans said yesterday council had not been informed of any developments.

"We have heard absolutely nothing zip," he said. "It is a wait and see game."

Ararat Regional Business Association public relations officer Phil Clark said it was disappointing Premier Ted Baillieu had not visited Ararat to address the issue.

"There are a lot of jobs gone as a result of this and no one's heard from him," he said.

"We want some information as to when it is going to start again.

"There are a lot of businesses from Ararat and across the region who are owed a lot of money."

During a doorstop interview at Parliament House in Melbourne on Wednesday Mr Baillieu said the government was considering proposals but declined to elaborate.

"What I want to do is get this resolved and that's our focus, and it has required some pretty active involvement and that's continuing at the moment," he said.

"Our priority is to get this project complete, our priority is to get the sub-contractors paid and we believe that the parties to the original Aegis consortium have some obligations that they need to honour."

Yesterday morning, sub-contractors and union members protested outside Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh's Melbourne office while another group of about 50 people rallied outside Nationals member Damian Drum's office in Bendigo.

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