Parliament House is a caffeine-fuelled environment and now taxpayers have shelled out $420,000 to upgrade a drinks cart in the building into a coffee hub.
But the Department of Parliamentary Services says it expects to make that money back in a year’s worth of sales.
Labor senator Kimberley Kitching asked whether the department was happy with that price tag.
Department boss Robert Stefanic said he was, because it was lower than an initial estimate of $538,000.
“In terms of the costs, I know you publicly made a comment about that would take 100,000 cups of coffee to be sold – that’s about a year’s worth of sales so as a return on investment that’s actually not bad,” he told her during a Senate committee hearing on Monday.
Four of the five coffee and food outlets within the building are owned by the Department of Parliamentary Services.
Only one, the Queen’s Terrace Cafe, is open to the public.
In 2018/19 the department sold just shy of 284,000 coffees across all outlets.
Some 85,000 of these came from the coffee cart, which made $330,000 in the year, Mr Stefanic said.
The department’s annual report shows this was a 28 per cent increase on the previous year despite 2018/19 having a third less sitting days because of the election period.
Mr Stefanic said the new coffee hub – a hole-in-the-wall type permanent cafe – was anticipated to sell 100,000 coffees this year.
He also reassured senators that architect Hal Guida, part of the original design team for Parliament House, had worked on the design of the coffee hub.
Asked about complaints the queue from the hub was blocking nearby lifts, Mr Stefanic replied that it shouldn’t do so because “a tensile barrier system” guided caffeine-seekers in a different direction.
The old coffee cart has been moved to another part of the building, bringing the number of DPS-run cafes up to four.
The only independent outlet, Aussies Cafe, complained publicly in 2017 the department wanted to hike its rent by 70 per cent from $94,000 to $160,000 a year.