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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2298

Senator TATE —Some days ago Senator Peter Baume asked a question which expressed concern about alleged substitution of imported computers for locally produced computers in the electorate offices of senators and members, and in another place the viability of the company contracted to supply the computers was questioned. In answering any question concerning Australian content of government purchases, it is important to realise that it is a complex issue. For example, Australian content will include research and development, product testing, and the labour used in addition to the actual components made in Australia which go into making up the end product. Thus, in considering products which have nominally the same percentage of Australian components, important differences in Australian content can emerge.

The issue of what is Australian content is addressed many times by Commonwealth Government purchasers. To help in this matter, a Commonwealth Government purchasing manual has been produced. In chapter 8, annex H, there are guidelines to assist in calculation of the level of the Australian and New Zealand content. New Zealand is included because of the closer economic relations agreement between our two countries. Any allegations concerning the level of Australian content of products purchased by the Commonwealth will be investigated according to the guidelines set down in the purchasing manual. I have requested that, as a matter of urgency, officers of the Department of Local Government and Administrative Services investigate the allegations which have been made. I am concerned to ensure that, as a local supplier, the company is afforded an opportunity to answer the allegations. Until the investigations have been completed, it would not be appropriate to comment on the future of the contract.