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Wednesday, 10 May 1989
Page: 2172

Senator McGAURAN —Can the Minister for Finance confirm that the Government paid a consultant $170,000 in relation to the transfer of the Defence Service Homes Corporation to Westpac? Did the Government make the payment at the request of, on the advice of or in liaison with the Minister for Veterans' Affairs? Was the consultant engaged full time? What was the final amount paid and the basis of the fees?

Senator WALSH —The first part of the question asked whether a consultant was paid something more than $100,000. I am almost certain that it was something more than $100,000. The consultant concerned was Mr Uhrig. I was asked whether that was done at the instigation of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. It is often difficult to tell in exercises such as this one who instigated what. I do not think it was instigated by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. If I recall correctly, it was principally instigated by the Prime Minister but others, including me, were involved in it. The task force on asset sales was also involved.

The outcome of that decision and those negotiations was highly successful. In addition to reaping ongoing savings of the order of $11m a year in lower administration costs because the administration of the scheme will be handled by Westpac and not the Commonwealth bureaucracy, there is a premium of $100m gross paid by Westpac above the face value of the outstanding loans, or $85m net if one makes an adjustment for the timing of that payment. So the outcome was very satisfactory.