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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2672

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Did the Department of Aboriginal Affairs arrange for a refit of a Taiwanese fishing vessel? Were tenders called? Why did the Department not follow the usual practice of having the Australian Shipbuilding Board call tenders? Were the plans approved by that Board? What is the total cost of the refit?

Mr BRYANT (WILLS, VICTORIA) (Minister for the Capital Territory) - There are 4 Taiwanese fishing vessels which were arrested by the Royal Australian Navy and which are now in the following ports: Two are in Perth, one is in Darwin and one is in Maryborough. These vessels were taken over by the Department of Primary Industry. Early in this year, the Minister for Primary Industry asked me whether the Aboriginal people or the Island people could use them. Each of the vessels is worth between $400,000 and $500,000. So this proposal was given serious consideration. One of the vessels was moved from Darwin to Maryborough. I do not know what stage has been reached there. The Walker's Ltd shipyard at Maryborough examined the vessel with a view to refitting it. I understand that the normal procedure for refitting a vessel is that it is taken to a yard and the refitting procedures are on a cost-plus basis.

The object is to get one of these ships to sea so that the Island people will be able to use it. This is very valuable piece of equipment. I hope that, with the experience of operating this vessel, we will be able to make use of the other vessels when they are brought up to Australian navigational standards and so on. The real objective is to get the maximum use of these ships for the benefit of the people in the north. As to the cost, I will have to find out what the current situation is.

Mr Nixon - What about tenders? Were tenders called?

Mr BRYANT - No, tenders were not called. Normally, vessels for refitting work of this nature must be taken to a yard, examined thoroughly and then negotiations entered into with the shipyard on the refitting. My understanding is that normally for refitting work of this nature tenders are not called but that the work and its cost must be dealt with on the spot according to the requirements.

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