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WA government and builder John Holland reach confidential settlement over $300m Perth Children’s Hospital lawsuit

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The WA government and construction giant John Holland have agreed to a settlement, of an unknown amount, in their long-running dispute over the Perth Children’s Hospital.

Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) builder John Holland launched legal action in 2019 “to recoup hundreds of millions in outstanding payments from the WA government”, in what was a significant escalation of the fight over the long-delayed project.

The writ lodged in the WA supreme court at the time confirmed John Holland was seeking more than $300 million in compensation from the state government for changes to the project.

The $1.2 billion hospital opened three years behind the initial schedule due to significant delays, lead and asbestos contamination and two Legionella disease scares.

In a joint statement released on Thursday, a WA government spokesperson said the state of Western Australia was proud of the Perth Children’s Hospital, a world-class facility.

“In the interest of the people of Western Australia, the state is pleased to confirm it has reached a settlement with John Holland which will remain confidential as per the conditions of settlement,” the statement continued.

Perth Children’s Hospital endured a troubled build. (ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)

“The state looks forward to John Holland tendering for future major projects and creating jobs for Western Australians.”

A spokesperson for John Holland shared a very similar message, stating it had reached a “mutually beneficial settlement”.

“John Holland is proud of the world-class facility it developed with the WA government and looks forward to future opportunities in Western Australia,” the John Holland spokesperson said.

The McGowan government’s legal dispute with the construction company traveled an increasingly acrimonious path, with then-treasurer Ben Wyatt accusing the firm of treating him like a fool in early 2019.

John Holland construction company generic
Perth Children’s Hospital builder John Holland launched a $300 million legal action against the WA government in 2019.(ABC News: Dan Cox)

At the time, Mr Wyatt had refused to confirm reports the government had offered $20 million to John Holland to resolve the issue, describing it as a “well used” litigation tactic by the firm, as head contractor of the project, to try and force the government to compromise its position.

Prior to their dispute heading to court, which happened in November 2019, both parties had sought damages from each other, with the government seeking compensation for the delays in reaching practical completion of the hospital.

The delay to the opening of PCH meant the ongoing use of Princess Margaret Hospital, the state’s previous children and adolescent health facility that first opened in 1909.

Towards the end of its life, the hospital had aged significantly, with staff morale said to have been very low, in part due to the ongoing delays to the new hospital’s opening.

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