Premier Mark McGowan’s Labor government initiated the development through its “parliamentary precinct project” which was part of the COVID-19 recovery plan in this year’s budget.
The project aims to consolidate several parliament functions into one building as well as several electorate offices based around West Perth.
A fit-for-purpose space for the leader of the opposition’s office will also be included in the building.
When the Liberal Party is out of power there will also be room for the leader of its usual government partners the Nationals.
An application to develop the site has been submitted to the State Development Assessment Unit as a project of significance.
The unit was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide the WA Planning Commission with temporary decision-making powers to fast-track proposals worth more than $20 million in metropolitan Perth.
A development application submitted by Rowe Group on behalf of Pivot stated the project could start construction as soon as it was given the planning tick-off.
“It is expected that the construction of the parliament annex will have a programme of 33 months, including early works, base build and fit out,” the submission said.
“Through this programme, it is anticipated that the early works programme will create 40 jobs for a six-month period and, once construction of the development in earnest, will create an additional 200 to 250 construction jobs.”
A statement provided by the project’s architect, Bollig Design Group, to the submission stated design approach was to present a “simple and elegant” facade in glass which reflected the heritage architecture of parliament house.
“The facade has a series of random square and rectangular projecting sunshade elements which act as an asymmetrical counterpoint to the formality and rigidity of the Parliament House facade further reinforcing its heritage significance,” it said.
“Importantly the base of the building or podium at pedestrian and street level is clad in sandstone reflecting the materiality of Parliament house providing a visual and material connection past and present.”
Office space in short supply around ageing Parliament House
Moving the leader of the opposition’s office into the new building is hoped to save taxpayer money and avoid scenarios such as the government being left on the hook for $500,000 worth of rent for an empty building, which happened after the 2017 election.
The Liberal Party refused to moved into an office space on Hay Street that cost about $22,500 a month and was leased out to 2019, which Labor had been based out of prior to winning government.
The opposition and Nationals have instead based their operations out of Parliament House.
Parliament’s decrepit fountains, which were decommissioned in 2006, were redeveloped over the past three years and reopened in August as office accommodation for 24 staff members as part of a $2.4 million plan.
The current government’s ministerial offices are based out of Dumas House with the premier and Attorney-General John Quigley sharing a floor.
Mr McGowan moved his office out of the “premier’s palace” at the nearby Hale House in 2018 while Mr Quigley did not enter a new lease at London House on St Georges Terrace.
Former premier Colin Barnett shifted several offices to Dumas during his reign with a refit of the building costing about $50 million.
More than $19 million was spent three years ago on restoring the facade and podium at Dumas.
Mr Barnett also oversaw about $26 million being spent on refurbishments at Hale House where his office was located.
Mr McGowan’s government initially used Hale House for its cabinet meetings but has been holding them at Dumas ever since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit WA.
Public Sector Commission staff are now the main occupants of Hale House.
Mr McGowan had promised prior to the 2013 election to make Hale House available as a space for charities.
The new four-storey office development next to Parliament is open for public comment through the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage’s website until February 3.
Peter de Kruijff is a journalist with WAtoday.