Letters to the editor | May 18, 2018

Call for alcohol register

AS THE former owner of the Commonwealth Hotel buildings in St Arnaud and a long-time crisis accommodation provider in Melbourne, I am calling for state and federal governments to require doctors to contribute to a register.

This register would inform police of people who should be on an alcohol ban list, so as to direct hotels and bottle shops to restrict, if not instruct, a total ban on the sale of alcohol to chronic alcoholics. 

The system would work in a similar manner, which currently works with the police ban list of problem drinkers which hoteliers cannot serve in a bar. 

I've seen too many alcoholics unable to give up their addictions due to the easy availability at bottle shops. It's time alcoholic sales were restricted from sale to those who it is doing so much harm. If this measure is deemed too hard for MPs to achieve, then the cashless system of welfare payments should be rolled out to cover all Australians – not just in Indigenous communities. This would help poker machine addicts, too. 

It is also already well known that when anyone drinks and drives, there is an increased risk of accidents. 

When going to an auction of a house, you don't take a bid from a drunk to be serious enough to be an enforceable contract to buy a house – so why do we still allow gambling while drinking alcohol in our society? 

Politicians already know that alcohol impairs judgment to make reasoned decisions – yet they don't apply the law in relation to what the beer and spirits corporations sell. In doing so, they are working against the health and financial wellbeing of the nation. 

Gilbert Boffa, Yarra Glen

Kaniva build feedback

ON BEHALF of the contractors of the Kaniva Community Hub building project, I would like to reply to articles that have been written about this construction.

I feel the need to explain to the Kaniva community that this build was not over budget but, in fact, came in below initial cost expectations. Articles in the Wimmera Mail-Times did not say the project was over budget, but did discuss the audit process. 

The tender process the contractors had to follow was to give a price for the general building works only, to complete the building to lock-up stage – which also included internal lining, basically ready for painting.

The contract was signed for $538,000. From this stage, additional items to complete the building were to be added to the project once they were fully costed and agreed to – those being provisional cost items. The contract did not include provisional cost (PC) items, which are the estimated cost for the fixtures needed to make the building operational as a community hub.

A number of other items were also excluded from the initial accepted tender. Examples of these include air-conditioning, cool rooms, umpires rooms, bench tops, kitchen cupboards and fire services equipment. These PC items were costed by the architect at $440,000. This brought the total of the original project cost to $978,000.

Under the funding agreement, the state government would not hand over their monetary grant of $495,000 if the building was deemed incomplete – therefore it was essential to include these excluded items.

The process involved the contractors costing every PC item and presenting them to the building committee for authorisation.

Due to timeline constraints and limited selection information, the PC items were unable to be selected and costed before the project began. The state government funding would also have been jeopardised due to the project having to be fully completed by June 30, 2017.

These PC items came in at a cost below the initial architect’s budget amount – including installing the disabled access lift, which was not included in any initial budgets. So, despite some reports of there being a budget blowout and overspend, the project came in under the initial total tender price. There were extra items added to the project and some deleted, but the building came in about $60,000 under initial estimated costs.

It is possible some documentation may not have satisfied the requirements of auditors, but the people within the community should be proud of the council employees and volunteer committee members to deliver this magnificent building for the entire community to enjoy.

To have an outside project manager could have added $80,000 to the overall cost.

Further, when the contract and formal agreement was signed, the build was to be completed on May 31, 2017.

It was a credit to all of the contactors that this building was finished within the original contract date – even though the PC items and other variations approved by the West Wimmera Shire and building committee should have entitled the contractors to extensions of time.

This could have added weeks, if not months, on to the project.

We always had the community’s best interests to deliver the project on time.

A separate tender including power and water upgrades had to be completed for the building to be operational and was desperately needed.

The budgeted cost of this part of the project was $250,000, which was also delivered on time and below the initial cost estimates.

The community has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the project and the contractors contributed significant additional hours to the project to complete it on time and under projected cost, donating a lot of our time where possible to benefit the community.

The Kaniva sporting and community clubs that were involved with the community hub should be proud of the building that they have helped achieve.

Haydn Kuchel, Kaniva

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