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Monday, 11 May 1987
Page: 2960


Mr CADMAN(10.35) —Last week I raised with the House the problem of computers being supplied to honourable members' and senators' electorate offices. My concerns were the inadequate compatibility of the HRCs with those in our Parliament House offices, complaints by honourable members involved in the pilot project about hardware and software problems and technical difficulties, lack of consultation with honourable members involved in the pilot project, and the fact that petitions to wind up HRC Technologies Ltd had been filed in the Supreme Court of Tasmania on 9 and 26 March this year. Despite those wind-up notices, a purchase contract was entered into and signed on 13 April this year.

I call for an investigation of the matter and answers to the following questions: Were the companies properly investigated before contracts were let? Why was no proper evaluation made of the system? Why was the contract entered into when so many complaints had been made by honourable members about the quality of the equipment? The Senate Estimates Committee A report of May this year mentions the computers, the fact that the tendering process began in May 1986, and that the contracts were let at the end of September 1986. However, the Senate Committee was informed at its hearing in September 1986 that the President had advised the Committee that the Special Minister of State tender had been amended so that the mandatory requirement for compatibility with existing senators' and members' systems had been relaxed. I want to know from the Special Minister of State (Senator Tate)-and I have not heard from him yet-why those requirements were relaxed at what appears to be a late stage in the tendering process.

I wish also to inform the House that following my speech 10 days ago, the Minister's office contacted my office about the details of the speech, and said that the Minister was unaware of the facts contained in my speech in the House. I have more information about HRC Technologies Ltd. It has not filed any returns in Tasmania since its incorporation on 19 June 1985. One must ask why that company was not properly investigated before the Commonwealth entered into the contract. There is also a New South Wales contract. HRC Technologies Ltd was awarded a contract last year to supply computers to the 99 State members of parliament. There have been the same complaints from those State members as there have been from Federal members. The principal shareholder of HRC Technologies Ltd, HRC Holdings Pty Ltd-formerly Hotel Restaurant Club Holdings Pty Ltd-has not filed any returns in New South Wales since 1982. Therefore, it appears that the New South Wales Government has entered into a contract with a company that has not filed returns since its incorporation, and whose principal shareholder has not filed any returns in New South Wales for four years. That company would appear to be in breach of the New South Wales Companies Act. On 18 March 1986, the Special Minister of State said:

Australian industry involvement in the project will be maximised and my Department is preparing plans for the acquisition of appropriate equipment.

I inform the Minister that it is my understanding that that equipment is being flown in from Taiwan, completely assembled, and is arriving at honourable members' offices with the brand `Made in Taiwan' on the side of the containers. This matter has become a fiasco and serious questions need to be asked about the tendering process, the contract and the evaluation process, and why the conditions of the contract were varied at a late stage.

I am concerned that the New South Wales Government has been involved with this company, and serious questions need to be asked about that Government, the company and its principal shareholder. Problems are still being encountered with the machines being supplied to honourable members and senators. The product that has been provided is not entirely Australian-indeed, it appears to have minimal Australian content. I believe that all honourable members deserve assurances from the Government that this matter will be fully and expeditiously investigated. I do not like the way that things have been done. It must raise serious problems for the administration of the contract and supply of computers for members' and senators' offices.