The ACT Government has reallocated half a billion dollars earmarked for the purchase of the Civic Government office block for investment in public health infrastructure in  Canberra, including building a new sub-acute hospital in northern Canberra.


The Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher, said she believed it was  right to prioritise the delivery of health services to Canberrans over owning an office block.


"These are uncertain economic times, and while I am confident that the ACT economy is strong and can withstand many of the current global pressures, the Government’s budget position has been affected by the global economic uncertainty, and lower than forecast revenues.


The Government determined in August last year that it would market test the delivery of new office accommodation in Gungahlin and Civic.


Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer, Andrew Barr, said the immediate priority was the delivery of the Gungahlin office project.


“We have received nine registrations of interest from the development sector to build offices - both on our land and developer's own land - and we are aiming to start building in the 2012-13 financial year," he said.


Mr Barr said the method used to procure office accommodation in Gungahlin would be duplicated for the Government’s future office accommodation needs in the city.


"Following the success of the Gungahlin process, we will work with the property sector to secure new or renewed office space in Civic for about 3,000 ACT Government employees," Mr Barr said.


Mr Barr said the Government will invite the property sector to submit proposals that meet the accommodation needs identified through the project work to date. This could include adaptive re-use of buildings, campus-style accommodation, construction of a new building or combinations of the above.


The accommodation will be required to be at the same standard as the Commonwealth Government mandates for its employees.


"As an employer, the ACT Government has a responsibility to ensure our staff are accommodated in safe and appropriate accommodation, and much of our current rental and owned stock is rundown and below Australian standards" Mr Barr said.