Contract assessing safety concerns at Darwin’s major sports stadium ‘may not pass the pub test’, opposition says

The Northern Territory government awarded a tender to assess fire safety equipment at Darwin’s main sports stadium to the same company involved in its original design, raising concerns from the opposition about a potential conflict of interest. 

Earlier this year, some firefighters expressed concern about potentially inadequate water pressure and volumes at the Marrara Stadium, also called TIO Stadium, ahead of an AFL game attended by thousands of spectators.

A fortnight later, NT Planning Minister Eva Lawler told a budget estimates committee that a company called Cardno had been selected to assess a “complaint about the water and fire main”.

At the same hearing, the chief executive of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics provided further details about the company’s contract.

“It is doing work on the water hydrology, which is effectively the hydrant capacity and the ability to fight fires at TIO Stadium,” Andrew Kirkman said.

The ABC has seen documentation showing Cardno was involved in the original design and certification of the fire hydrant system in 2014, before a separate company installed it.

Firefighters expressed concerns about safety risks at the stadium earlier this year.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

NT Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro has questioned why a different company wasn’t selected to assess the original equipment.

“To some, this won’t look like it passes the pub test,” she said.

Asked whether the contract could create a perception of a conflict of interest, Ms Finocchiaro said: “Absolutely, people could have that perception”.

“But ultimately, where is the government leadership on this issue?”

‘Historical knowledge’ was beneficial: department

In a statement, the department said at the time of installation, the fire hydrant system had the appropriate occupancy certification, including “agreement” from the NT Fire and Rescue Service.

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