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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2803


Mr LLOYD —My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I refer to the awarding of the coastal surveillance contract to Amann Aviation and in particular to the Government's dramatic departure from the long-standing practice of dealing only with established companies which are able to fulfil contractual and financial obligations. Is the Minister aware that, according to information obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission, when the awarding of the contract to Amann was announced, the successful tenderer was trading as an unincorporated, registered business name, R. and P. Amann Aircraft Hire, and was a $2 shelf company which had no aircraft and no air crew, and which had only recently before the announcement apparently changed its name from `Myruse'-I think that might be a fairly accurate name-which in turn was a $2 company and which had no record of lodging a return since 1985? Is the Minister still satisfied that the contract is actually legal, that Amann is a suitable company for such an important national service and that the company can fulfil its obligations? Is the projected changeover date from Skywest Airlines Pty Ltd to Amann still May for Darwin and otherwise 1 July, or has it now been put back to September?


Madam SPEAKER —I call the Minister for Transport.


Mr Tim Fischer —And don't just defend your Department of Aviation.


Mr PETER MORRIS —May I say for the benefit of the honourable member for Farrer that these contracts are administered by the Department of Transport, not the Department of Aviation.


Mr Howard —Big point.


Mr PETER MORRIS —There is a little difference. The information raised by the honourable member is not new. It has been the subject of Press reports and allegations. A solid campaign is being waged by interests associated with some of the other tenderers to undermine the performance of the successful tenderer. I said to the honourable member on a previous occasion that tenders were invited. I outlined at that time the number of tenders that were involved and the procedure that was followed. It was dealt with in accordance with past established practice. There was no legitimate reason, after consideration of the tenders received and the procedures followed, why the contract should not have been awarded to Amann.

I will deal in a written response to the honourable member with the specific questions he raised, rather than try to outline them from memory now, but I have no problem in providing detailed answers to the points he raised. As I said at the outset, the information that he is providing in respect of the companies is public knowledge. There is nothing new about that-it was published several times several weeks ago. Maybe he has just discovered it. But it was published on several occasions in several parts of the Press. The honourable member may not like the fact that the successful tenderer was not the one that he is supporting. I cannot do anything about that. But as I said to him before when he raised this question, this is not Queensland. We do not deal with contracts the way his National Party colleagues deal with them in Queensland. If the honourable member wants them dealt with that way, he should have the courage and decency-please-to stand up and say that is what he wants. He should not try to hide behind these subterfuges and allegations.


Mr Lloyd —Madam Speaker, I take a point of order. My point of order is that I am not a stooge for Skywest or anyone. I am trying to establish that the best thing is being done for the coastal surveillance of this country.


Madam SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.


Mr PETER MORRIS —Madam Speaker, for the benefit of the honourable member, I referred to no company by name and to no interest by name. The honourable member has chosen to identify a company. Be that as he wishes. I was saying that we will not deal with contracts in the manner in which the honourable member's colleagues and his new leader, the Premier of Queensland, deal with them. If he wants a rigged tender process, he should say that to the people of this country; but he will not get it from this Government.

In regard to the other matter about the tenderer not having any aircraft suitable for the task, I say to the honourable member: Neither did six of the other tenderers. There were eight tenderers and only one of them-the existing operator-could have had the specialised aircraft and specialised equipment. So none of the other seven tenderers had the aircraft, the skilled staff, or the necessary equipment to go along with the services for which they were tendering.


Mr Young —Skywest didn't when it got the contract.


Mr PETER MORRIS —Exactly. As my colleague the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs says, neither did Skywest when it first tendered in that area.


Mr Lloyd —It was a well established company.


Mr PETER MORRIS —I seem to remember representations from the National Party and statements by National Party members in the Townsville area attacking Skywest at the time it received a contract, and making almost the same assertions against that organisation, its employees and staff as the honourable member has now been making against the successful tenderer in this case. I do not propose to go into the detail of that. Suffice it to say, of the eight tenderers, only one could have the relevant aircraft and the skilled staff.

The contract that has been let imposes obligations on the firm concerned. That firm has a responsibility to carry out its obligations. If that responsibility is not met, it will be dealt with at that time. But in the meantime, I will not participate in an exercise, along with the National Party, of trying to rig the tender process as the Government of Queensland and the honourable member's colleagues are so renowned for doing in this country.