Chapter 3—Report on performance

Managing the heritage values of Old Parliament House

Table 3 Summary of results against key performance indicators for Objective 1:
Manage the heritage values of Old Parliament House, 2011–12
Key performance indicators Results Description
Complete first year of a Floor Conservation Schedule. Fully achieved Relevant works were completed.
100 per cent of contractors have heritage training prior to works commencing. Fully achieved Training was provided for 100 per cent of contractors (380 contractors).
Implementation of recommendations from Actions Committee processes audit. Fully achieved The audit made no recommendations.
Manage the implementation of a new asset management system to ensure accurate identification, valuation and tracking of existing and new assets. Mostly achieved The new system was substantially completed. However, final testing issues were still being resolved at 30 June.

Conservation projects

Senate roof during render works

Senate roof during render works.

The Floor Management Strategy, which contains the three-year Floor Conservation Schedule, determines a comprehensive approach to protecting floors and floor coverings based on identified risks. It outlines appropriate short-term and long-term solutions, such as conservation, protection, replacement or reduction of use.

The first year of the schedule involved a range of works:

  • applying a maintenance coat to the rubber floor of the Lower Corridor, and a matting solution at all external entries to prevent dirt and debris from entering the building on people’s shoes
  • installing mats in the foyer area, to protect fragile rubber floor inserts, and additional druggets (matting) in high-traffic areas
  • providing protective covering for selected rubber and timber floors.

Other conservation works undertaken during the year included:

  • stabilising the Parliamentary Library doors
  • repairing the lining fabric of a settee in the Queen’s Room and cushions in the Senate Chamber
  • stabilising corrosion on a silver filigree model sailing ship
  • protecting the flooring threshold in the Members’ Dining Room and stabilisation of carpet in the House of Representatives
  • carrying out mould treatment of furniture.

Heritage awareness training

Senate roof after render works

Senate roof after render works.

All staff, volunteers, tenants and contractors are required to undergo heritage awareness training. This key requirement of the museum’s Heritage Management Plan promotes cooperation with and understanding of heritage objectives.

Heritage awareness training ensures that people working onsite are aware of heritage issues and obligations, and of ways to minimise their impact on the fabric of the building and its collections. The training program is continually reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains relevant.

Training was provided for 380 contractors, 111 staff, 57 volunteers and 57 staff of building tenants. Visiting school groups were also given presentations on how the heritage values of the building are preserved.

Heritage Actions Committee

The Heritage Actions Committee considers proposals for actions and activities which would affect the building and its curtilage, in order to avoid any significant adverse impact on heritage values. In doing so, the committee acts in accordance with the Heritage Management Plan and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

If the committee determines that the impact of a proposed action is not potentially adverse, the action may be approved by the internal delegate. Should the committee consider that a proposal may, or is likely to, have a significant adverse impact on the listed heritage values of the place, it can refer the proposal to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (or the minister’s delegate) for approval.

The committee meets fortnightly to discuss proposals, provide input and make recommendations. The committee assessed 20 proposals in 2011–12:

  • 19 were approved by the internal delegate after being assessed as having no adverse impact on the site’s heritage values
  • one was declined.

A review completed during the year as part of the internal audit program found that the committee was operating effectively. The review made no adverse findings or recommendations for amendment to the committee’s activities or procedures.

The committee’s membership is shown in Table 15 in Part 4 of this report (page 55).

Asset management system

A new radio frequency identification (RFID) system which was substantially developed in 2011–12 will greatly improve the agency’s ability to track and manage its core collection assets.

Currently, all collection objects have a barcode sticker that displays the object’s accession number. Barcodes will be gradually replaced with RFID tags that are linked to the objects’ records in a collection management database. A handheld tag reader will allow the operator to confirm that an object matches its database record before confirming that the object has been verified for stocktake purposes.

The project included purchasing and integrating a software solution to link tags, via handheld tag readers, with the heritage asset database. It also involved working with conservators to determine the most appropriate types of tags and methods of application to use for particular objects, including an analysis of adhesives, and the possible long-term effects of tagging on different material types.

The project entered the final systems testing phase during the year. The full implementation of the system and the application of the tags will be rolled out in 2012–13.

Capital works

Stage two of the facade upgrade, which commenced in 2010–11 as part of the preservation of Old Parliament House, was completed.

In addition to replacing or reattaching render, the upgrade works include removing layers of old paint and repainting all rendered surface areas with a breathable silicone resin paint. This project has given the agency the opportunity to repaint the building as closely as possible to the original design intent of the building’s architect, John Smith Murdoch.

Significant background research was undertaken by the museum and heritage specialists to establish the original design intent and finish and select an appropriate modern equivalent paint product using materials with low environmental impact. The new finish will enhance the appearance of the building and provide a surface requiring minimal maintenance for a number of years.

The first stage of the project, covering all walls, soffits, piers and balustrades, terraces and access bridges at the rear of the building, was completed in October 2011.

Stage two works covered all roof-level facades, including both chambers, King’s Hall, and the former Parliamentary Library, which equates to approximately 4,000 square metres. Works commenced in November 2011 and were completed in May 2012. Additional works in the Senate Courtyard were completed by the end of June 2012.

Stages three, four and five will move progressively around the building. The project is expected to be completed in 2014–15.

Several smaller capital works projects were also completed:

  • The building’s café was relocated to the front of the building. Modifications to the new area were designed to be easily reversible, to minimise any heritage impacts should the space be reinterpreted at a later date. The existing main kitchen continued to be used for food preparation, reducing the modifications needed in the new space and thus further minimising heritage impacts.
  • The obsolete access control system was replaced with a new, integrated access control system. The building now has a more comprehensive, modern and fully integrated security access system that will support access control and security requirements well into the future.
  • The third stage of an upgrade of the exit and emergency lighting system, which commenced in 2009, was completed, with the upgrading of lighting in the South-West Wing.
  • A covering was constructed to protect the bridge link in the Senate Courtyard, which is used by staff and school groups. The covering will protect the link from inclement weather, minimising risks of slips and falls, and help protect the building’s heritage fabric from any further water damage resulting from water being walked into the building.
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