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Tuesday, 22 June 1999
Page: 6990

Mr BRERETON —My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, according to your department's brief, don't key objectives for Australia's participation in Expo 2000 at Hanover include `projecting an updated image for Australia as a reliable supplier of excellent and innovative goods and services and showcasing Australia's culture and the arts'? Why then has the contract for design, construction and operation of the $10 million Australian pavilion at Expo 2000 been awarded to an American company, Caribiner International, instead of the other finalist in the selection process, the highly regarded Melbourne based company, Photomation? When announcing the contract award last Wednesday, why did your department's press release describe Caribiner as `a Sydney based consortium' when in fact it is an American trade show and event marketing group with headquarters in New York?

Mr TIM FISCHER —This is an exciting project which the federal government is advancing in conjunction with state governments, including the Queensland state government. Indeed, the federal government is putting $8 million plus into the project, the Queensland government—to its credit—is putting in $2½ million, and other state and territory governments are putting in to ensure that the Australian exhibition at Hanover 2000 stacks up in a practical way on a tremendous site which has become available following the reallocation of part of the area which was to be occupied by Korea with proximity to one of the main pathways through the Expo site at Hanover.

The process of tender selection was, of course, quite properly at total arms length from either the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister for Trade. It is true that the company which received the tender has international connection absolute. Perhaps that was one of the factors which led to its selection in terms of the project presentation that they made with regard to their tender and their site development. There is absolutely nothing to hide on this issue. But in respect of any tender process which involves the selection of one successful company there will be those who are disappointed, including those from Melbourne and elsewhere who are quite bitterly disappointed. I would encourage them to keep producing submissions for future activities, and they will be properly considered in the very correct way that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade goes about these matters.