Labor delivers another Thebarton police barracks cost blowout at $162.5 million

Labor delivers another Thebarton police barracks cost blowout at $162.5 million

Posted on: 09 July 2024

The cost blowout to remove SAPOL from the Thebarton barracks has surged past $70 million, triggering concerns that the total price tag for the policy-on-the-run project could hit $200m by the time it’s finally complete.

It has been revealed the total cost to move SAPOL from the site has ballooned to $162.5m – an extra $72.5m on top of the original $90m price tag that Treasurer Stephen Mullighan promised was “in line with what we’re expecting to spend from the outset” in September.

The latest cost blowout is an additional $9.5m – up from $153m that was made public just two months ago. To make matters worse, work on the CBD staging area for the horses has contributed to the closure of surrounding businesses battling surging operating costs.

Opposition analysis shows $72.5m could have funded more than 1000 new cadets – with an annual salary $63,950 – as South Australia’s crime crisis worsens and more officers abandon SAPOL.

There have been 196 officers who have abandoned the force this year up until March, while the Malinauskas Labor Government’s recruitment campaign had only managed to lure 207 people to the job.

Shadow Treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, said taxpayers could be on the hook for $200m if Labor continues to deliver costs blowouts for the project.

“Peter Malinauskas and Labor cannot stick to a budget or project timeline and it always costs South Australian taxpayers,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“The cost of Peter Malinauskas’ decision to move the SAPOL barracks to Gepps Cross appears to grow by the day and at this rate, the project could end up with a $200m price tag which is $110m more than was first promised.

“We still don’t even know if SAPOL will be moved out in time and if Peter Malinauskas failures to deliver on that, it won’t just be a cost blowout, it’ll mean time delays for the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital and that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Shadow Minister for Police, Corrections and Community Safety, Sam Telfer, said the relocation of the police barracks to Gepps Cross is a huge threat to officer resources.

“We know there are many officers from the Mounted Operations Unit who aren’t happy about moving to Gepps Cross which is a logistical nightmare for the horses and, as admitted by SAPOL, will cause additional operational costs and logistical challenges,” Mr Telfer said.

“It could be that Peter Malinauskas’ decision to send SAPOL to Gepps Cross could cost an extra $110m and see even more police officers reconsidering their future in the force, which is a disaster.

“SAPOL officers are still leaving the force in seriously concerning numbers, and Labor has made no moves to help retain exhausted officers already on the frontline.

“Given the crime crisis in South Australia right now, we cannot afford to lose a single officer.”