Hospital building manager unregistered

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 25-Aug-2017

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BENDIGO Health will correct four consecutive annual reports after being notified by the state’s building authority former construction manager Adam Hardinge has no Victorian registered building 

qualifications.

And while insisting he had not misrepresented his qualifications, Mr Hardinge yesterday told the Bendigo Weekly of his regret about his behaviour during four years of employment at Bendigo Health which led to his conviction and fining in 2016 on nine theft and deception charges.

“If I look back, I did some really stupid things,” he said, adding that it was a culture at the time in the construction industry.

“I have to wake up each morning and deal with that.”

Mr Hardinge was first employed by Bendigo Health in 2011 to manage demolition works on the site of the new $630 million hospital.

He is listed in the 2010-11 annual report as director of capital projects and as being a domestic builder unlimited and a commercial builder unlimited, accreditations administered by the Victorian Building Authority.

Mr Hardinge was listed in the next three annual reports with the same qualifications but as the construction manager of the new Bendigo hospital.

In a letter obtained by the Bendigo Weekly, the VBA notes Mr Hardinge did not require a building registration to act in the roles because the building permits issued for the new hospital list Bendigo Health as the owner builder.

Bendigo Health engaged Exemplar Health, a consortium that includes construction giant Lend Lease, to build the hospital.

But the VBA found Bendigo Health’s annual reports were wrong to include the qualifications next to Mr Hardinge’s name.

“Should Mr Hardinge have held out as being a registered building practitioner in the state of Victoria, Bendigo Health can refer this matter to the VBA as a complaint,” the letter states.

A Bendigo Health spokesperson said corrections to the annual reports will be made online, but the organisation did not comment on former employees.

“Bendigo Health will not be taking this matter further,” the spokesperson said.

For his part, former chief executive John Mulder, who was the subject with Mr Hardinge of an investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission which led to the charges against the latter, said he assumed Bendigo Health had evidence of Mr Hardinge’s qualifications.   

“I and other members of the Bendigo Health executive were informed by Adam Hardinge’s supervisor on several occasions that Adam was a registered building practitioner and his status as a registered building practitioner was recorded regularly within the Bendigo Health Annual Report,” Mr Mulder said.

“I assumed such recording was based on the submission of documentary evidence confirming his registration and I had no reason to believe otherwise, if in fact that is the case.”

Mr Hardinge said all that he submitted at the time of his employment was an email confirming he was eligible to qualify as a registered builder but that he had not done so.

“There was never any documents to hand over to say that I was (a registered builder),” Mr Hardinge said.

He said that in 2012 he filled out the paperwork to gain the qualification, but never submitted it.

Misrepresenting building qualifications draws a fine of between $20,000 and $80,000.

The VBA said it had “not received any evidence to suggest that Mr Adam Hardinge has claimed to be a domestic building unlimited, or a commercial builder unlimited; nor that he has advertised himself as a registered building practitioner with the VBA”.

Asked about his court case and the tabling of the full IBAC report in parliament in March, Mr Hardinge said he was glad it was over.

“It has been a really tough three years,” he said.

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