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Thursday, 31 August 2000
Page: 17160

Senator Faulkner asked the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, upon notice, on 3 March 2000:

(1) Has the department, or any agency of the department, commissioned or conducted any quantitative and/or qualitative public opinion research (including tracking research) since 1 October 1998, related to the goods and services tax (GST) and the new tax system; if so: (a) who conducted the research; (b) was the research qualitative, quantitative, or both; (c) what was the purpose of the research; and (d) what was the contracted cost of that research.

(2) Was there a full, open tender process conducted by each of these departments and/or agencies for the public opinion research; if not, what process was used and why.

(3) Was the Ministerial Council on Government Communities (MCGC) involved in the selection of the provider and in the development of the public opinion research.

(4) (a) What has been the nature of the involvement of the MCGC in each of these activities; and (b) who has been involved in the MCGC process.

(5) (a) Which firms were short-listed; (b) which firm was chosen; (c) who was involved in this selection; and (d) what was the reason for this final choice.

(6) What was the final cost for the research, if finalised.

(7) On what dates were reports (written and verbal) associated with the research provided to the departments and/or agencies.

(8) Were any of these reports (written and verbal) provided to any government minister, ministerial staff, or to the MCGC; if so, to whom.

(9) Did anyone outside the relevant department and/or agency or Minister's office have access to the results of the research; if so, who and why.

(10) (a) What reports remain outstanding; and (b) when are they expected to be completed.

(11) Are any departments and/or agencies considering undertaking any public opinion research into the GST and the new tax system in the future; if so, what is the nature of that intended research.

(12) Will the Government be releasing the full results of this taxpayer-funded research; if so, when; if not, why not.

Senator Minchin (Minister for Industry, Science and Resources) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) (a) Q1(a) Yes. In February 2000 Quantum Market Research undertook broad public opinion research in the context of a biotechnology awareness program. One of the research questions was in relation to the goods and services tax (GST), however, the primary focus of the research was not the GST.

(b) The research was quantitative.

(c) The purpose of the research was to compare consumer concerns on four current issues - focusing on their relationship to genetically modified foods.

(d) The contracted cost of the research was $8750.42.

(2) Broad public opinion research was a part of the strategy proposal for a biotechnology public awareness program put forward by Turnbull Porter Novelli (TPN) who were chosen through a tender process. TPN commissioned the research.

(3) The Ministerial Council on Government Communications (MCGC) was involved in the selection of Turnbull Porter Novelli, but not in the development of the research.

(4) (a) The Ministerial Council on Government Communications (MCGC) was involved in the selection of Turnbull Porter Novelli in accordance with MCGC guidelines.

(b) MCGC members, Government Communications Unit and the Departments of Industry, Science and Resources; Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Australia; Environment Australia; Health and Aged Care; Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

(5) (a) The two shortlisted firms were Turnbull Porter Novelli and Stratcom Australia.

(b) Turnbull Porter Novelli.

(c) The Ministerial Council on Government Communications.

(d) TPN best met the selection criteria and best demonstrated they had the experience, understanding of the issue and ability to undertake the consultancy.

(6) The cost of the research was approximately $8750.42

(7) 22 February 2000.

(8) Topline results were reported in the context of an oral progress report on Biotechnology Australia's public awareness program to the February 2000 meeting of the Ministerial Council on Biotechnology. The Council comprises the Ministers for Industry, Science and Resources (Chair), Health and Aged Care, Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Australia, Environment Australia and Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Some staff members from the respective Ministers' Offices were also present at the Council meeting.

(9) No. It has only been circulated amongst some Biotechnology Australia agencies and partners, however some of the findings will be incorporated in other public awareness documents.

(10)(a) None.

(b) Not applicable.

(11) No.

(12) There are no plans to release the research as it is now considered dated.