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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 499

Mr BEAZLEY (Minister for Defence) —by leave-On 25 September 1986, report No. 254 of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts was tabled. It reported the Committee's findings and recommendations on proposed computer acquisitions for Department of Defence. I report today the Government's response to the principal recommendations.

The Committee recommended that the computer requirements of the Office of Defence Production should be tendered for separately from those of the rest of Defence. This is accepted and action is in hand. It also recommended that a separate contract for small systems be not proceeded with. That recommendation too is accepted.

In respect of the major proposal for standardised equipment to be bought under project DESINE-the defence electronic data processing systems integrated network environment-the Committee supported the strategy but not the proposed method of acquisitions in pursuit of that strategy. It was concerned that there was insufficient opportunity for Australian industry, and that a prime contractor for five years was too restrictive.

The Government notes the Committee's concern for Australian industry. My colleagues, the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce (Senator Button), and the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services (Mr Uren) and I have arranged that the request for tender for project DESINE should make it clear that the prime contractor can be an Australian company, and that Australian content will be monitored throughout the life of the contract. Because of the urgency of Defence's needs, the Government has now agreed to the issue of the request for tender for the range of hardware and software products for project DESINE. I present the following paper:

Proposed Computer Acquisitions by the Department of Defence-Ministerial Statement, 23 February 1987.