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Purpose-built offices emptied to fill quota

VACANT SPACE: The $3.5 million state-of-the-art facilities at George Thorn Centre was replicated for Disability Services to move to Icon Tower.
VACANT SPACE: The $3.5 million state-of-the-art facilities at George Thorn Centre was replicated for Disability Services to move to Icon Tower. Inga Williams

JUST 359 of the promised 1200 public servants have relocated from Brisbane to Ipswich under the Newman Government.

Housing and Public Works Minister Tim Mander said under the LNP, more than 840 staff had moved into Icon Tower so far, including 359 who had relocated from Brisbane.

Meanwhile the $10.8 million George Thorn Centre, purpose-built in 2008 with a $3.5 million disability services centre fit out with five therapy rooms, has been empty for the past year.

The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services moved to Icon Tower with the state-of-the-art facilities replicated in the fit-out of its new base.

The government's lease of the George Thorn Centre expired in August.

As revealed in The QT this week, the government's attempts to fill the Icon Tower had also cost taxpayers $5.5 million in rent, leasing more than 4000sq m of empty office space.

Despite the commitment of his predecessor, Bruce Flegg, to uphold the Bligh government plans to relocate 1200 public servants to Ipswich, Mr Mander yesterday blamed the $5.5million farce on Labor.

"Labor locked Queensland into a 15-year lease of more than 15,000sq m of office space in the Icon building - despite having no plan on how they would fill it," Mr Mander said.

"All other vacant leases in Ipswich, including those in the George Thorn building, have now expired, been relinquished or are in the process of being re-tenanted."

The plan under the Bligh government was clearly spelt out in a four-staged process announced in 2008 to save $188 million over 20 years through reduced leasing costs.

Stage two detailed 15,000sq m of office space relocated from Brisbane CBD to Ipswich in the year 2012.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday was reluctant to make a firm commitment on decentralising the public service other than to say those who lived in regional areas should have the choice to work locally.

"We had initially raised the prospect of letting people who live regionally work regionally," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Campbell Newman has had three years to fill these offices. Campbell Newman is only interested in the brand new executive building down in George Street that he is building for himself and his ministers.

"He is not interested in regional centres."

Topics:  icon ipswich public servants



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