The $586 million redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital is in limbo as Tasmania’s new government urgently seeks advice on delays and cost blowouts.
New Health Minister Michael Ferguson says the major project can’t proceed while it remains in “crisis”.
He blamed the previous Labor-Green government and promised the Liberals would rescue the rebuild.
“These findings have made it impossible for any responsible government to simply proceed with the project without taking further advice,” Mr Ferguson said in a statement.
“It’s a right royal mess.”
Almost $1 million was spent on a redesign after the original called for 11 floors despite planning approval for just 10, the minister said.
Close to half of a contingency fund of $43.6 million has been spent with the project still to be substantially started.
Mr Ferguson won’t say whether the project will be scaled down or whether more federal funds will be sought.
The redevelopment became the signature project of Hobart-based independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie when he negotiated $340 million as part of his agreement to support the Gillard government in 2010.
Mr Wilkie said the former government had turned it into a “shambles”.
“The previous premier (Lara Giddings) and health minister (Michelle O’Byrne) both failed to show strong political leadership, the result being that millions of dollars have been spent already and the rebuild is two years behind schedule,” the Denison MP said.
Mr Wilkie said it was now up to Mr Ferguson and Premier Will Hodgman to fix the problems.
Ms O’Byrne, now Labor’s deputy state leader, said most of the information released by Mr Ferguson had been in an Auditor-General’s report produced by the March election.
“Redeveloping on a working hospital site comes with significant challenges,” Ms O’Byrne said.
“Michael Ferguson needs to own up to whether he’s going to work through those challenges or abandon the full redevelopment.”