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Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2008

Senator COATES —I ask a question of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. The Minister will recall receiving representations from me about the arrangements for optometrical services to Tasmanians who are the responsibility of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and he will recall my mentioning dissatisfaction that had arisen in that State as a result of the letting of the contract for those services last year. Can the Minister yet provide me with any information in response to those representations?

Senator GIETZELT —It is true that Senator Coates has raised with me on several occasions the problem of the provision of spectacles in Tasmania as a result of the decision of the Deputy Commissioner in Tasmania to accept a contract in August of last year. In fact, senators on the other side of the House have also raised with me problems that have arisen as a result of acceptance of the lowest tender. I think it has to be conceded that as we have a system of decentralisation those sorts of decisions are made at that level. It has been proven that the tenderer has not performed satisfactorily for quite some time, although there has been very divided opinion on this. Some clients of the Department of Veterans' Affairs have been very happy with him and some have been very unhappy with him. In more recent times complaints have been investigated by the Department and some matters have been put in the hands of the Australian Federal Police. Allegations have been made against the tenderer and those matters are currently being examined by the Australian Federal Police.

In addition to that, the Department has asked the tenderer to show cause why he should not have his tender rescinded. There are sufficient breaches to suggest that that sort of action should be taken. As a result, I think, of all the inquiries and investigations that have been made by my Department arising from the concern about the provision of optometrical services in Tasmania for clients of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, tenders have been called and the Australian Optometrical Association will in 1984-85 be awarded the tender on the basis of being the lowest tenderer. So the reign of Mr Wallace-Williams will come to an end in any case. But these other matters are currently under consideration by the Australian Federal Police and the Department.