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Tuesday, 24 February 1987
Page: 507

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy) —On behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley), I present the Government's response to report 254 of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and seek leave to incorporate the statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

On 25 September 86, Report 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 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, the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services 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.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.