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John Howard yet to report on Reith's involvement in $900m DIDS fiasco.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

29 January 2003


The reports today that the Defence Integrated Distribution System (DIDS) project has stalled reinforces the growing controversy surrounding this $900 million contract.

The latest setback raises further concerns about the claimed savings from the project, which had already dropped from the target of $32 million to just $8 million a year. It now appears that the outsourcing of this function could end up costing the Government money.

The reported collapse of the negotiations over DIDS highlights the Government’s bungled handling of this $900 million contract and raises more concerns about Peter Reith’s role in this fiasco.

John Howard must now fulfil his promise to report back to Parliament on just what Peter Reith knew about this contract and the potential conflict of interest in him becoming an employee of the winning bidder, TenixToll.

There is clearly a potential for a conflict of interest when you have a former Minister jumping across to a Defence company that then wins a tender, which their new employee had been briefed on as Minister.

On 10 December 2002, when specifically questioned about a potential conflict of interest with Peter Reith and the awarding of the DIDS contract, John Howard undertook to investigate the matter and report back to Parliament.

To date the Prime Minister has failed to fulfil that commitment.

DIDS has become a fiasco. The Government released tender documents in 1999, four years on and the contract has not been signed. In the interim taxpayers have been forced to pay $6 million to the six bidders because Peter Reith restarted the process.

The project will inevitably see jobs lost, including in regional areas. The only jobs protected by the Government were those in marginal Coalition seats in the lead up to the last election.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617