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Thursday, 10 October 1996
Page: 3985

(Question No. 164)

Senator Bob Collins asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Development, upon notice, on 30 July 1996:

(1) Has Airservices Australia called for expressions of interest in the provision of fire vehicles for major civil airports.

(2) Which company or companies supplied the fire vehicles currently in use at these airports and why are they being replaced.

(3) Is it the practice of the Government to seek to maximise local content in such contracts; if so, has that policy position been conveyed to the Board of Airservices Australia and has the Board advised Airservices Australia management accordingly.

(4) When will the tender be let for the supply of these vehicles.

(5) Will the tender documents specify a minimum local content requirement as a condition of the contract; if so, what will the minimum requirement be.

(6) Did the Invitation to Register document specify that the vehicles should be of proven design, already in operation and require only minimum design changes based on functional requirements to suit Australian conditions.

(7) Will this design preclude Australian manufacturers who are able to produce a proven product with a non-proven variant.

(8) Does Airservices Australia intend to send officers overseas to investigate what vehicles might be available from foreign manufacturers; if so: (a) how many officers will go on the trip; (b) when are they planning to depart; (c) what are their qualifications; (d) which companies are they planning to visit; (e) where are these companies located; (f) what is the expected duration of the trip; and (g) what is its anticipated cost.

Senator Alston —The Minister for Transport and Regional Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Airservices Australia, in an advertisement in the Weekend Australian on April 13 1996, invited registrations of interest for the supply of eleven major airport fire vehicles, with an option to supply a further four vehicles. This constituted the first step in a two step process. Step two will be to seek formal tenders from a short list of suppliers selected from organisations responding to the Invitation to Register Interest (ITR).

(2) Twenty fire vehicles are being replaced. Fourteen of these were supplied by the Walter Truck Company of Canada and six smaller capacity Rapid Intervention Vehicles (RIVs) were supplied by Austral Denning Pty Ltd of Brisbane, Australia.

The Walter vehicles are between fourteen and eighteen years old, costly to maintain and do not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards pertaining to water and comple mentary agent (dry chemical powder) capacity. The acquisition of the new improved capability fire vehicles will result in the six RIVs becoming surplus to Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (RFFS) requirements.

Reduced ICAO remission factors applicable from January 2000 combined with Airservices' RFFS category changes due to increased aircraft size at certain airports preclude the continued use of the Walter vehicles as front line major attack fire vehicles. Furthermore, proprietary parts crucial to continued operation of the Walter vehicles must be custom engineered at significant cost.

(3) Australian Government purchasing policy encourages Government Business Enterprises like Airservices Australia to maximise opportunities for Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) industry development through the inclusion of industry development criteria in purchasing decisions. To meet this requirement, tenderers for the supply of the fire vehicles will be required to provide, under separate cover, details of the ANZ industry proposals associated with their offers. The proposals will identify ANZ value-added elements associated with supply of the fire vehicles including the component of local manufacture and the extent of technology transfer.

The Board and Management of Airservices Australia are conscious of Government policy concerning Australian industry involvement. Airservices Australia has, after consulting the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism (DIST), included an Industry Impact Statement which addresses industry development criteria in its ITR documentation. This action was taken in recognition of the importance of the Fire Vehicle Replacement Project to ANZ suppliers, notwithstanding that there is no formal requirement for Airservices to do so for projects under $30 million.

(4) It is anticipated that tenders for the supply of fire vehicles will be sought in October 1996 and the contract for supply of the fire vehicles awarded in June 1997.

(5) It is not intended that a minimum local content requirement be specified as a condition of contract. However, tenderers will be requested to specify the component of local manufacture or supply that will be included in the fire vehicles offered, the supplier's name and the approximate contract value. If parts/components are to be obtained from ANZ suppliers and/or assembled in an ANZ facility then tenderers are required to specify the name of the assembler and the approximate contract value. Any distribution and/or ANZ agency relationship is also to be identified.

(6) Yes.

(7) All manufacturers (Australian manufacturers included) must be able to demonstrate that they are offering airport fire vehicles which are proven in operational service and which require minimal design changes to meet Airservices' functional requirement without the need to manufacture and test a prototype vehicle prior to commencement of full scale vehicle production. Non-proven variants to proven products will be evaluated by Airservices Australia in this context.

(8) Airservices Australia will evaluate offers from manufacturers claiming to meet its functional requirements on the basis of best value for money against criteria which will be published in its Request for Tender (RFT). A part of this evaluation may include visiting overseas manufacturers to substantiate claims made by tenderers.

(a) It is expected that a team of four officers may undertake such a trip.

(b) The timing of the trip will depend on the progress and findings of the tender evaluation, however a March 1997 departure is anticipated.

(c) The team is expected to include one Operational RFFS Specialist, one Technical RFFS Specialist, the Project Manager and a Union Representative (member of the United Firefighters Union).

(d) The companies to be visited are yet to be identified as this will depend on the findings of the Tender Evaluation.

(e) As per (d) above, however companies expected to submit tenders are located in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Germany and Austria.

(f) The duration of the trip will depend on the Tender Evaluation findings, particularly the number and location of companies to be visited, however the duration of the trip is not expected to exceed four weeks.

(g) The estimated cost of the trip is in the order of $60,000.