Monday, October 18, 2010

Taxpayers fund extravagant Parliament House 'war room' upgrade featuring $3000 chairs - not that we need them, right mate?

IF Julia Gillard declares war, she and her generals will oversee military operations in comfort. 
Taxpayers have funded 45 German-designed armchairs at $3000 each for Parliament House's new "war room".

The Wilkhahn "FS" chairs, covered with specially ordered green leather, are considered the best money can buy, allowing the user to recline comfortably without risk of toppling over.
The room also features two "integrated tables", worth $72,000, with inbuilt computer and communications systems.

Modelled on the White House Situation Room, the $35 million facility will be used in times of national crisis, with space for Cabinet ministers, military advisers and emergency services representatives.
It was recently completed, after being commissioned by Kevin Rudd as prime minister.
Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Alan Thompson provided details of the room's fit-out costs to a Senate committee hearing yesterday.

Opposition senator Cory Bernardi said the top-of-the range chairs were an extravagance "to feed the West Wing fantasies of the Labor leadership".

"How can the Government justify this latest misuse of taxpayers' money while sentencing future generations to massive government-imposed debt?" he said.
The chairs are similar to those in the Cabinet Room, purchased by the former Howard government in its final term.

Labor's then spokeswoman on public administration and accountability, Penny Wong, made a similar fuss at the time over the $2885 Cabinet chairs.

She said the government should have opted for basic $99 leather executive chairs from Officeworks.
"It would have been a lot quicker and cheaper if the PM's staff hired a ute and drove down to Officeworks in Fyshwick or Braddon," she said.
Wilkhahn representative Nick Mallios said the chair was based on a 30-year-old design that had stood the test of time.

"You pay for what you get," he said.
"We're a German company so they're German quality, but locally made and manufactured."

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