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Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Page: 23

Tasmania: Government Procurement

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:16): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, federal government departments are increasingly entering into single contracts with national suppliers at the expense of smaller Tasmanian companies, hoping to supply goods and services exclusively or principally in Tasmania. The result of this discriminatory contracting is often substandard and expensive goods and services because Tasmania is obviously a unique regional and rural market physically dislocated from the mainland. Quite simply, Tasmania is entirely unfamiliar to many national suppliers who don't even have a presence there. Prime Minister, will you review this matter so that Australians relying on federal government agencies located in Tasmania and Tasmanians relying on local federal government services start getting a better deal?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:17): I want to thank the honourable member for his question. In March 2017—so, last year—the government made significant changes to procurement rules to maximise competition and ensure that Australian businesses of all sizes are able to compete for government contracts on a level footing. We want to see more government work going to local businesses, and there are many reasons why that should be done—accountability being one of them, local jobs being another, the connectedness and engagement with the community being vitally important.

Of course, taxpayer value for money is the primary test. Naturally, it is taxpayers' money, which must be spent as prudently as possible. The new Commonwealth Procurement Rules require that benefits to the Australian economy be considered when assessing the value-for-money of tenders for non-construction procurements above $4 million and construction procurements above $7½ million. And potential suppliers to government will continue to be treated equitably and cannot be discriminated against based on their size, location or ownership. More broadly, the government is backing business to create local jobs, including in Tasmania, where there are over 1,200 businesses with a turnover between $2 million and $50 million. One of them that I mentioned a moment ago, Stubbs Constructions in Burnie, is a good example of the type of Tasmanian business that the member for Denison should be fighting for as he stands up and condemns, as I trust he will, Labor's disgraceful announcement today that it is going to jack up the company tax on small and medium family-owned businesses, including in Tasmania.

The honourable member knows that Tasmania is doing better than it has for many years. It has a good Liberal government, under Will Hodgman. It's benefiting from our pro-growth policies here in Canberra. We have provided real incentive to those Tasmanian businesses and others like them around the country. In this captain's call aimed at the member for Grayndler, a rebuke to the member for Grayndler, out of the indignation and vanity of the Leader of the Opposition, he's announced today, without any consultation, that those very Tasmanian businesses are going to have to pay more tax under a Labor government. The honourable member should be well aware of that and should be saying to his constituents what a shocking threat to their jobs the Labor Party represents.