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Wednesday, 1 December 1976

Mr Lloyd asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

(   1 ) When a request is made by an Australian foreign aid team for a replacement part or for new or additional machinery, through which Government Departments is the request processed before the item is finally dispatched.

(2)   Has there been criticism of undue delay in the fulfilment of these requests or orders.

(3)   Have simple replacement parts sometimes been delayed for months because of cumbersome departmental procedures.

(4)   Are purchase procedures sufficiently flexible to allow foreign aid teams to purchase equipment, vehicles or tractors in the recipient country rather than Australia when it is obvious that the initial purchase and /or the provision of replacement parts is more efficiently obtained in that country.

Mr Peacock - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   When a request is received for a replacement part or for new or additional machinery for an Australian aid project overseas which is managed directly by the Australian Development Assistance Agency (ADAA), the request is processed and the item procured and dispatched by the Agency. In cases where another Government Department or instrumentality is acting on behalf of ADAA in the management of an aid project then that Department or instrumentality is empowered by ADAA to procure and dispatch the required item(s).

(   2 ) Yes, from time to time there is criticism of delays in the fulfilment of requests. Delays have most commonly been the result of:

(a)   inadequate specifications on the part of the recipient government agency or project authority;

(b)   the inability of Australian manufacturers or suppliers to meet contracted delivery times;

(c)   the infrequency of sailings of vessels from Australia to certain overseas ports;

(d)   the time-consuming customs clearance procedures of some recipient countries.

(3)   As with other Australian Government purchasing authorities ADAA's purchasing procedures must meet the requirements of the Audit Act and Treasury Regulations and Directions. Delays in providing replacement parts are more often due to the reasons given in (2 ) above.

(4)   The Australian aid program is essentially a grant program under which Australian-produced equipment is normally made available to developing countries at no cost to them. Such gifts include spare parts where necessary. Minor items of equipment may be purchased by aid teams within the recipient country. In special circumstances major equipment may be purchased from non-Australian sources including those in recipient countries.

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