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Source: New Zealand Parliament

Media Release
Tuesday 13 April 2021

Over recent months I, along with other senior MPs, have been considering the future accommodation needs of Parliament.

For many years now, it has been clear that current accommodation on the parliamentary precinct is not fit for purpose and can no longer effectively support a modern, accessible Parliament. The growing issue was greatly exacerbated last year by the need to vacate Bowen House for seismic strengthening and we are now beyond capacity with Ministers, members and staff scattered across four buildings (one of which is not on the parliamentary precinct) in a rather haphazard manner. While we have done our best with available space, current arrangements are subpar, uneconomic and, unsustainable, especially when the possible future growth of our Parliament is taken into consideration.

I have previously spoken of my desire, and intention, for all Ministers, members and supporting parliamentary agencies to be located on the precinct, in Crown owned buildings. It makes absolute sense financially and logistically, and the objective has cross-party support.

Given this, an accommodation strategy has been developed to improve the long term performance and utility of the parliamentary precinct in a way that is cost-effective, operationally efficient and eliminates our reliance on third party providers.

The strategy builds on work started, and approved by cabinet, in 2016 but halted in late 2017. I firmly believe the time is right to revisit the strategy and that we must take this opportunity to ensure that the precinct is well-positioned to support Parliament as it evolves over the next 50 – 100 years.

The strategy is based on the following principles:

  • Fit for purpose – accommodation will be accessible, flexible and adaptable, creating less disruption and facilitating a more efficient transition between parliaments.
  • Economic value – greater utilisation of Crown buildings and land will provide the best economic value in the long term, eliminating the need to lease property from third parties.
  • Sustainability – we will create a world-leading example of energy efficiency, moving us closer to our carbon zero goals.
  • Resiliency – reduced risk of disruption to the work of Parliament in the event of an emergency/disaster or supply infrastructure failure.
  • Safety and security – the safety of those working on, and visiting the precinct is enhanced and threats to security and confidentiality are reduced
  • Partnership – we are committed to partnering and collaborating with tāngata whenua throughout the entire future accommodation project, recognising their unique relationship to the land and role as kaitiakitanga.

There are three main components to the strategy.

Museum Street Building

The strategy centres around the construction of a new building on Museum Street to house members of Parliament and their staff. This is Crown-owned land, which is currently under-utilised as car parking.

While we are working through the detailed design phase, preparing to apply for resource consent, I would like to share a few of our plans with you, as they currently stand:

  • The building will be a functional office space with a simple, modern design that is sympathetic to the surrounding environment. We are not seeking to create a landmark.
  • It is proposed to be six storeys with select committee rooms on the ground floor and a direct link to Parliament House.
  • It will utilise a modular layout which easily adapts to different configurations and offers a high degree of flexibility.
  • We will aim to create a net carbon zero building with a Green Star 6 rating, making it a world leading example of innovation, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
  • The design will prioritise using New Zealand made and natural materials.
  • The building will have high levels of seismic resilience.
  • New public areas will be included in the building and landscape design.

Other developments

The strategy also includes the development of a further two buildings.

The Executive Wing annexe, currently unoccupied but previously occupied by the Press Gallery, is considered earthquake prone, and will be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate up to nine ministers’ offices. This will allow all Ministers to be co-located, which is important for communication, collaboration and confidentiality. This is proposedto be a three story building, complementary to the existing Executive Wing, with a link to Parliament House and a targeted Green Star 6 rating.

A small two storey building is also proposed for the Ballantrae Place entrance. This will accommodate the current ‘secure deliveries’ function, the processing of inwards and outwards goods and security screening for contractors to site. This fulfils multiple recommendations of the recent security review.

The principles of environmental sustainability and use of New Zealand made materials will also apply to these builds.

Next steps

As previously mentioned, we are now finalising our detailed design and preparing to apply for resource consent.

Funding for construction will be applied for in the 2022 budget and we will aim for work to begin later that year. The goal is for all new accommodation to be completed and ready for use following the 2026 election.

I acknowledge that bringing accommodation up to standard and increasing functionality of the precinct will require significant investment, however, we must look at the long term. Ultimately, this is the right and responsible course of action to ensure our nation’s Parliament is supported to operate efficiently and effectively for many years to come. 

A cross Party governance committee, supported by the Parliamentary Service, has been established and will keep you updated and provide further information as the project progresses.

ENDS

For further enquiries please contact:

Jessie Manning
Office of the Speaker
+64 21 872 397

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