Post Entry Quarantine Facilities, Mickleham Victoria

Victoria, Australia

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The Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) leased and operated five Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facilities for the management of imported animals and plants under the Quarantine Act 1908. Existing leases on all existing sites expired between 2015 and 2018 with no opportunity for lease extensions in the medium term. New PEQ facilities and infrastructure are required to satisfy contemporary high biosecurity quarantine standards and meet future demands, for high risk species. This project delivered a single, consolidated complex on a 144- hectare greenfield site north of Melbourne Airport.

The PEQ Facilities Project was delivered by the Department of Finance (Acting as the Property Owner). Finance purchased the site in June 2012 and own the facility. Agriculture will operate and manage the PEQ facility. This project is being delivered in stages to align with expiration of leases and the funding profile. AECOM was engaged through the Department of Defence – Defence Infrastructure Panel to provide Project Management and Contract Administration (PMCA) and Cost Management Services.

Key Innovations and Achievements

Diverse Experience

AECOM selected personnel for team from diverse professional backgrounds with a range of skills to ensure that challenges of working within the complex Quarantine area were anticipated and mitigated. Our excellent team of project managers and quantity surveyors were supported by technical specialists as required to oversee the delivery of this project. This included senior team members involved in previous health and biosecurity facilities and a construction programmer to test and challenge the contractor’s program to ensure realistic forecasting in support of risk management. Their collective experience in delivering large complex projects added significant strategic and operational value to the project.

Accessibility of AECOM Technical Expertise

We also have used internal specialists to respond to specific issues as they have arisen to provide the client and stakeholders with confidence that their project is in safe hands. During the design phase, key stakeholders within the agricultural sector questioned whether the Mechanical Systems Options report for the bio secure plant houses was sufficiently robust to cater for the full range of plant growth environmental conditions they wished to replicate. AECOM engaged an internal senior mechanical engineer with extensive experience in quarantine and laboratory environments to peer review the report. AECOM confirmed that the recommended option within the report was appropriate but that the report was lacking the level of detail required to support the recommendation. The review by AECOM provided the confidence to the stakeholders that the mechanical solutions were appropriate.

Early in the construction of the initial stages the contractor had a tendency for optimistic forecasting of the construction program. The project had key program drivers to complete some of the facilities in readiness for transitioning operations from current leased premises prior to the lease expiry. Realistic program forecasting was required to manage risk (In an industry with a reputation for optimistic programming). Our dedicated construction programmers were engaged to evaluate the program. This helped drive realistic programs from the Contractors resulting in a focus on risk management strategies.

Operational Commissioning

The facilities are important to protect the animal and plant health status of Australia. These biosecurity measures protect Australia’s $42bn agricultural industry, its unique environment, native flora and fauna, tourism industries and lifestyle. Agriculture is both the regulator and operator of the bio secure quarantine facilities. The reputational risk of facilities not meeting the required standards would be severe. As a result, the contract for the managing contractor was modified to include an operational commissioning period post completion and prior to the defects liability period in enable the Department of Agriculture to conduct a number of operational tests to certify the facilities were fit for purpose prior to commencement of operations.

AECOM proactively engaged an internal senior mechanical engineer with extensive experience in quarantine and laboratory environments to peer review a report the stakeholders were not confident with. AECOM confirmed that the recommended option within the report was appropriate but that the report was lacking the level of detail required to support the recommendation. The review by AECOM provided the confidence to the stakeholders that the mechanical solutions were appropriate.