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Tuesday, 10 May 1994
Page: 493


The PRESIDENT —Yesterday, Senator Campbell raised some questions in the Senate following my statement announcing that the Speaker and I had agreed to a proposal by the Parliamentary Education Office for a new video on parliament to be produced by ABC TV Marketing. These questions related to the tenders received for this project and to the wider issue of whether government companies enjoy advantages over private companies when competing for government contracts.

  In relation to the tendering for the video on parliament, I offer the following information. A selective tendering process, in accordance with current purchasing guidelines, began in November 1993. The firms invited to tender were Film Australia, Ryebuck Media, NRS Group and ABC TV Marketing. Ryebuck Media is an independent educational media company based in Melbourne, which has twice won competitive tenders to produce videos for the Parliamentary Education Office. The NRS Group is a private Canberra firm.

  In considering the tenders, the selection panel took into account the creative ideas presented to it, the potential offered by the proposed theme and script and the relative experience of firms undertaking work of this nature. The prices quoted for the video by each of the four firms were within a close range of each other, and for this reason had no significant bearing on the decision made by the selection panel. The ABC was successful because, in the panel's opinion, its proposal was the best and because it has a proven capacity to undertake this type of work.

  As to the broader question of the commercial operations of ABC TV Marketing, Senator Campbell would be aware that the charter of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation provides for its involvement in commercial operations. The extent to which these commercial operations are subsidised by exemption from the range of costs to which private companies are liable, and which were mentioned in Senator Campbell's speech, is a matter which I will refer to the Corporation for it to provide an answer. As I have indicated, the quoted price was not a significant factor in the award of this contract.