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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2267

Senator PUPLICK(5.29) —The Senate will be aware that a number of allegations have been made in relation to the purchase of certain boats by the Australian Institute of Sport. In particular, the allegation has been raised-if true, it would be serious-that the firm of Sargent and Burton, which was the unsuccessful tenderer despite having provided a quotation for the provision of this sporting equipment which was substantially lower than the tender finally accepted, was misled as to whether it had a realistic chance of obtaining the tender for which it had made a submission. I accept quite clearly that there is no requirement that simply the lowest tender must be accepted; there is clearly a requirement that the best tender must be accepted.

The question that arises is whether there has been any tampering with files of the Australian Institute of Sport. In particular, an article appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which no doubt the Minister and the officers have seen, on 20 November. It draws attention to the fact that there appear to be two letters on file, which in virtually all respects are identical, except that there is a change of price for the tender by Geoff Sykes and Associates Pty Ltd, which was the successful tenderer. In the first letter the quotation is for $74,200, but there appears to be a second letter, apparently undated, in which the quotation is $71,400. Some doubts arise in terms of this second letter, because it appears that that invoice might have been sent to the buyer only one week after production had started and still prior to actually receiving the order.

It appears that the firm of Sargent and Burton may have been deceived as to its prospects of winning the tender and that there may have been some tampering with the official files of the Institute in a way which would cause people to be misled, both about the sums of money involved and the sequence of events leading to the issuing of this tender. I therefore seek from the Minister any comments she may have about investigations which have taken place as far as that matter is concerned and in particular whether it is possible to obtain copies of the tender which was issued calling for submissions for the provision of that type of sporting equipment to the Australian Institute of Sport.