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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 459

Mr WHITE —How does the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism reconcile his call earlier today for Australians to get behind Expo 88 and show solidarity with his decision to bypass capable Australian companies in awarding the major audio-visual contract for the Australian Expo pavilion to an American company? Why were Australian companies not given the opportunity to tender for this contract, but only to submit their proposals? On what basis does the Minister reconcile this decision with his Government's buy Australian campaign? Why did the Minister reject the strong advice of his Department that this audio-visual contract not be proceeded with? Was it because established procedures for this contract had not been followed?

Mr JOHN BROWN —First of all, the question is based on a fairly doubtful premise. There is no contract; no contract has been drawn up. so that undermines the basis of the question. I am as conscious as anybody else in this House of the value and the spirit of the buy Australian campaign or Australian made campaign. The basis of that campaign is that we are imploring Australians to evaluate their purchases and, all things being equal or nearly equal, to buy Australian. I said in the House the other night that there were proposals for the theatre at the Australian Expo pavilion in Brisbane. It is fairly obvious that the most talented proposition was put up by an American company. That contract involves $5m of an $18m contract, about $1,500,000 of which was to be spent in Australia anyhow, so if that contract had been drawn up and signed, it would have been a very minor part of the total Australian budget. But at this stage there is no contract so the question falls down.

Allegations, some of them quite erroneous and some of them quite mischievous, have been made in various sections of the Press about the propriety of how my committee arrived at its decision to advise me to sign with an American company. I have asked my Department to investigate all aspects of the procedures that the committee followed to reach that decision. I am sure that all honourable members will share my view-not only because of the display that took place on the lawns of Parliament House today with the Prime Minister launching a new campaign to help Australian Expo achieve the greatness that I am sure it will achieve-that everyone would like the Australian pavilion at Expo Brisbane to be the best pavilion. I think that is an acceptable proposition-that the host country should have the best pavilion. I can assure this House that no stone will be left unturned by my Department, by my committee or by me to see that that happens, but by the same token I am just as concerned, confident and determined that that decision will be made with all the due processes of government contracting having been followed.