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PROPOSED COMMONWEALTH CONTRACTS (AUSTRALIAN SUPPLIERS) BILL 1986

Senator Vigor, pursuant to notice, moved-That the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) prepare and bring in a Bill for an Act for the purpose of ensuring that Australian suppliers are given maximum opportunity to compete for Commonwealth contracts for the supply of goods and services, that authorities entering into contracts on behalf of the Commonwealth give proper consideration to Australian suppliers, and that such contracts are awarded to Australian suppliers unless there are cogent reasons for awarding them to non-Australian suppliers, in accordance with the following outline:

PROPOSED COMMONWEALTH CONTRACTS (AUSTRALIAN SUPPLIERS) BILL 1986

OUTLINE OF PROVISIONS

1. Purpose of Bill: The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that Australian suppliers are given maximum opportunity to compete for Commonwealth contracts for the supply of goods and services, that authorities entering into contracts on behalf of the Commonwealth give proper consideration to Australian suppliers, and that such contracts are awarded to Australian suppliers unless there are cogent reasons for awarding them to non-Australian suppliers.

2. Application of Bill: The Bill is to apply to all Commonwealth authorities, that is, Commonwealth Departments of State, Parliamentary Departments, statutory authorities and companies owned or controlled by the Commonwealth.

3. General requirement: The Bill is to impose upon Commonwealth authorities a general requirement to ensure that Australian suppliers are given maximum opportunity to compete for Commonwealth contracts, that proper consideration is given to Australian suppliers, and that contracts are awarded to Australian suppliers unless there are cogent reasons for awarding particular contracts to non-Australian suppliers.

4. Australian suppliers: The Bill is to define an Australian supplier in accordance with the following criteria-

(a) for persons other than companies, the persons are to be residents of Australia; and

(b) for companies:

(i) a prescribed percentage of the shareholders is to consist of Australian companies or residents of Australia, or

(ii) a prescribed percentage of the goods to be supplied is to be manufactured in Australia, and

(iii) a prescribed percentage of the profits of the company have been invested in Australia.

5. List of Australian suppliers: The Department of Finance is to compile and maintain a list of Australian suppliers, and collect information to assist Commonwealth authorities to determine whether persons and companies are Australian suppliers.

6. Tenders and quotations: Where the value of contracts is more than a prescribed amount, tenders are to be invited and the invitations to tender are to be directed to the attention of known Australian suppliers. Where the value of contracts is less than that prescribed amount but more than a lower prescribed amount, quotations are to be sought from known suppliers. Exemptions from these requirements may be granted by the Minister for Finance in cases of urgency or exceptional circumstances, and any exemptions are to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament. In submitting tenders or quotations suppliers are to indicate whether they are Australian suppliers, and penalties are to be provided for any false statement.

7. Award of contracts: The award of contracts and the terms of contracts are to be published, together with a statement indicating whether the suppliers are Australian suppliers.

8. Statement of reasons: Where a contract is awarded to a person other than an Australian supplier, the publication referred to in paragraph 7 is to be accompanied by a statement of reasons for the award of the contract to a non-Australian supplier. This statement is to be laid before each House of the Parliament and forwarded to any Australian suppliers who tendered or quoted for the contract. Those suppliers are to be furnished with additional information relating to the reasons for their failure to gain the contract, and any further information relating thereto which they request.

9. Advance notice of contracts: Commonwealth authorities are to give advance notice of invitations to tender for contracts with a value above a prescribed amount, indicating the technology requirements involved in the contracts.

Debate ensued.

On the motion of the Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes) the debate was adjourned.

Ordered-That the resumption of the debate be an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.