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Tuesday, 29 October 1996
Page: 4631

Senator ROBERT RAY —I direct my question to the Assistant Treasurer representing the Minister for Administrative Services. During the supplementary estimates hearing on the DDB Needham smoking guns affair you stated that the question of whether DDB Needham was on the short list prior to the intervention of Mr Graeme Morris was fundamental to the case being developed by Senator Bolkus and me. Is it a fact that you have now been forced to reveal that the Minister for Administrative Services has now admitted that DAS made a thorough check of its files and could find no written evidence that DDB Needham Adelaide was in fact included on the list of advertising agencies prior to 28 June 1996? Is it not also a fact that this revelation by your own admission confirms that Mr Graeme Morris's fax was a key component of a political fix to guarantee the contract to DDB Needham Adelaide regardless of the quality of their bid?

Senator KEMP —I guess that question shows that at least Senator Ray can read his mail that was posted to him this morning. I did write to the chairman of the committee, as I am wont to do when it has been pointed out to me that some of the evidence that was given required to be corrected. That is exactly what I did. Senator Ray did read the letter out fairly correctly, as I understand. Senator Ray, you then said that you were building the case. As you know, that letter from Mr Morris was sent. Of course, you argued in the estimates that that led to the listing of DDB Needham.

I pointed out to you that the evidence that had been given at that time before the committee was that it had been listed prior to that. That letter that you made corrected that. Then you went on to say—and I am surprised that you did not go down and read the Hansard correctly—

Mr Minister, it does not matter whether Mr Morris had anything to do with this in the end.

That is what you said, and you went on to say:

What matters is that a ministerial committee has chosen a firm with massively and intertwined Liberal connections. . .

That is your quote. Then you concluded by saying:

So you can take Mr Morris out of it entirely.

That is what you said, Senator Ray.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Would the minister like to explain to the Senate how a firm so closely associated with the Liberal Party was on the list of five after Mr Morris's intervention when the average billing rate of the other four firms is $47.85 million and DDB Needham Adelaide is only $5.8 million? Can you give us an assurance, Senator Kemp, that it was not Mr Morris who got them put on the list of five? Now answer that question.

Senator KEMP —Senator Ray, those questions were posed innumerable times before the Senate committee. We had all the public servants there to answer your questions, Senator Ray. I have nothing to add to the evidence that was given before the committee.

The PRESIDENT —Senator Kemp, you directed your answer to Senator Ray. It ought to be directed to the chair.