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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 57

Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 12 December 2003:

With reference to the current contract for the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) submarine rescue services:

(1) Who is currently contracted to provide the service.

(2) (a) When was the tender for the contract released; (b) which companies submitted tenders; and (c) when was the decision made to select the winning tender.

(3) What are the terms of the contract, including value, length and options.

(4) On what grounds was the winning tender chosen over the other bids.

(5) Does the company currently contracted to provide the service: (a) employ all the necessary qualified staff to provide the rescue service; and (b) possess all the necessary equipment to provide the rescue service.

(6) Is the company capable of operating the rescue vessel, the Remora.

(7) (a) Has the Australian Defence Organisation (ADO) provided any personnel or equipment to the company to assist in providing the rescue service; and (b) what is the value of that assistance.

(8) (a) Has the company conducted any exercise since taking over the contract; if so, when were these conducted; and (b) are any further exercises planned; if so, when.

(9) In relation to any exercises that have been conducted: (a) did the company complete the exercises to the satisfaction of the RAN; (b) did the new contractor meet all performance criteria for the exercises, e.g. the time taken to deploy the rescue vessel; if not, what criteria was it unable to meet; and (c) in terms of the exercises that have been conducted, were there any safety concerns raised by the RAN or other parties over the activities of the company currently contracted to provide the service.

(10) Has the ADO contracted other parties to assist in providing the submarine rescue service since the current service provider was employed, i.e. have other companies been contracted to provide additional services or support; if so, what is the value of these contracts.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

Following a report of the Defence Inspector-General on Submarine Escape and Rescue Centre tender process I asked that my answers to the above question be reviewed. Following that review and after further consultation with the Inspector-General and Chief of Navy, I advise further:

(5) (a) The company employs appropriately qualified staff, although both it and the previous contractor have relied on the short term recruitment of experienced personnel to meet both sustainment and surge requirements.

(6) The company has been operating the vessel, but required pre-planned assistance during the transition phase, which was provided. The need for a transition strategy to the new contracting arrangements was noted by the Tender Evaluation Board (see question 10) and the provision of the pre-planned assistance was consistent with the Defence transition plan (see question 7).

(9) (a) The competence of some of the Fraser Diving operators was assessed as needing improvement. This issue has been addressed by the company and Defence.