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Thursday, 15 October 2015
Page: 7813

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (15:04): I move:

That the Senate take note of the explanation.

It is a critical principle in a responsible system of government that the parliament on behalf of the people can ask questions of the executive and that such questions be answered in a reasonable time frame, and, in accordance with standing order 74, I have moved this motion.

A number of questions have been asked since July of this year about the competitive evaluation process for the SEA 1000 system in relation to combat systems and technical commands and control systems. Questions have been asked about competitive evaluation process for the submarine project, the defence white paper and the way the CEP—the competitive evaluation process—is operating. Questions have been asked of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, DSTO, in relation to the Advanced Processor Build Program. Questions have also been asked in relation to the SEA 1000 program for the Future Submarines; visits of officers to France, Germany and Japan in the past 24 months; the Rizzo review; shipbuilding budgets here in Australia; the competitive evaluation process; and replacement combat systems. These are matters that ought to be answered under standing order 74.

I know it was short notice, but I did give advance notice to the acting minister's office in respect of this. The issue is that we have Senate estimates coming up. As a courtesy, I did write to the Minister for Defence's office and the Prime Minister office yesterday to give notice of this situation so that this motion could be obviated. If there is some undertaking from the government to give an answer or answers prior to Senate estimates commencing, that would be very helpful in the context of what this standing order is meant to enforce.