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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 20

(Question No. 4498)


Mr Jacobi asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 16 September 1986:

(1) Are Australian manufacturers of high technology equipment effectively excluded from tendering for government contracts because specifications are written around the proprietary equipment of overseas manufacturers instead of specifications written around a functional or performance requirement?

(2) Will he refuse to endorse recommendations for the purchase of foreign equipment in cases where Australian produced equipment fulfils the basic requirements?


Mr Beazley —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Those elements of the Defence Department responsible for procurement are required to avoid specifying proven products and systems unless essential and to use known and suitable Australian products when available. They must also acquaint themselves with those goods and services available from Australian manufacturers which may be suitable and must quote Australian standards whenever possible.

(2) Whenever Australian produced equipment can meet the requirements, it is included in the ``short-list'' of acceptable offers, which are then considered on cost and other such factors. Defence purchases are subject to Commonwealth preference policy which automatically adds tariff duty and discounts the price of the Australian content of a local tender by 20 per cent for comparison with overseas tenders. When a suitable domestic tender falls within this price range it is Government policy to procure locally. As Minister for Defence I may, when the strategic benefit so justifies, authorise payment of a higher premium for procurement from Australian sources.