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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 2758

Mr DOBIE (COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister) - I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Having regard to certain inquiries conducted by the Public Accounts Committee over recent years and the comment by the Auditor-General in his latest report regarding the purchase of certain vehicular equipment bearing on procurement arrangements, can the Minister advise the House what principles and associated administrative arrangements currently operate when Australian and overseas firms tender for goods and services?

Mr GARLAND (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Supply) - I must first say that the Department of Supply is concerned very largely with defence procurement, though the procurement section of the Department does some purchasing on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs in matters of foreign aid, and of course purchases equipment for use in the Antarctic. In the first instance, when overseas and domestic suppliers submit tenders, the overseas tender has added to it the usual costs of freight, insurance, duty and primage, if any, so that there is initially a comparison on a commercial basis. Any relevant tariff protection is afforded. Secondly, where the amount tendered is $15,000 or above and still results in the overseas supplier being the lower tenderer the Departments of Labour and National Service, Trade and Industry and Treasury have the opportunity to object. If they agree the matter can proceed, but if they disagree the tenders are referred to the Cabinet committee on government purchasing policy, which has already been announced, and which would consider whether the acceptance of a higher Australian tender would materially assist a depressed industry or contribute to a significant national development in Australia. There may be other reasons - one in which the defence group would be particularly interested is that of providing a defence facility in Australia or fostering it. This would also cause the Government to give preference to a higher Australian tender. 1 might add that where it is suspected that an overseas tender involves dumping it is now the practice not to eliminate that tender from consideration but to calculate a dumping margin, that calculation being carried out by the Department of Customs and Excise, so that a comparison can be carried out after that adjustment.

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