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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6557


Senator Mark Bishop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, upon notice, on 4 October 2002:

(1) Does the Minister recall that at Senate Estimates hearings in June 2002, the Department of Veterans' Affairs undertook to review the draft request for tender (RFT) in light of comment by industry and to consult with providers and the veteran community before progressing to an appropriate tender arrangement.

(2) Has the Community Transport Organisation (CTO) been consulted in that process.

(3) (a) Who was present at consultations with the CTO; and (b) on what dates were those consultations on the draft RFT undertaken.

(4) What was the outcome of those consultations.

(5) Has the original draft RFT been amended as a result of those consultations; if not, why not.

(6) Has the original draft been amended as a result of concerns raised by the New South Wales CTO; if so, in what way has it been amended.

(7) What is the current status of the draft tender process.

(8) When will tenders be called for and when will they close.

(9) Will the CTO be invited to tender; if not, why not.

(10) Has the CTO sought an appointment with the Minister; if so, why has the Minister not agreed to meet with CTO representatives; if not, will the Minister undertake to meet with CTO representatives.

(11) Has there been a decision that the Commission should continue providing community transport arrangements in New South Wales as separate arrangements, as foreshadowed in the Senate Estimates hearings in June 2002.


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Veterans' Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator's questions:

(1) Yes. This review and consultation process is ongoing.

(2) Yes, along with all other interested parties. Furthermore, consultation will continue throughout this process.

(3) (a) and (b) Two meetings have been held between CTO representatives and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (National and NSW State office representatives). Other organisations such as the NSW Council on Social Services (NCOSS) and the NSW Department of Transport have attended these consultations.

The dates of consultations and the attendees are as follows:

· 11 April 2002 - CTO representatives, Department of Veterans' Affairs (National and NSW State Office representatives) and the NSW Council on Social Services (NCOSS).

· 24 October 2002 - CTO representatives, Department of Veterans' Affairs (National and NSW State Office representatives) and the NSW Department of Transport.

Further consultations have occurred through written correspondence.

(4) The Department of Veterans' Affairs is considering the representations and feedback received from community transport operators in response to the release of the exposure draft Request for Tender (RFT). All the feedback received is now receiving further consideration in the review.

(5) Yes. The final RFT is in the process of being developed. It will reflect the necessary changes identified through the feedback and consultation process, to ensure that any new system suits the health needs of the veteran community and provides the best possible service.

(6) The RFT has not yet been finalised, however, all feedback is being fully considered including the concerns expressed by the NSW CTO.

(7) See part (5) above.

(8) No specific time frame has been set as yet for the tender process.

(9) Any organisation that meets the Department of Veterans' Affairs standard requirements and relevant State regulations covering licensing and accreditation of vehicles for hire may submit a tender.

(10) There is no record that CTO representatives have sought an appointment with the Minister on this matter, however, if a meeting was requested full consideration would be given to such a request.

(11) The NSW Department of Transport is responsible for regulating the services provided by community transport operators in NSW. In developing the final tender documentation, the Department of Veterans' Affairs has consulted with the NSW Department of Transport, along with the Community Transport Organisation, about ways in which veterans in NSW can continue to access community transport services, subject to the appropriate regulations. These discussions between the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the NSW Department of Transport and the CTO will continue.