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Defence was 'sloppy' with aviation tender



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Defence was 'sloppy' with aviation tender

August 25, 2011

The Senate has found that a cloud of uncertainty lingers over a $122 million aviation contract awarded by Defence to an aviation company in 2010 that has damaged the Department’s image and reputation.

In a report tabled today by Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee made a series of recommendations to ensure the tender process in question was free of potential conflicts of interests and probity risks in future.

Senator Johnston said the Opposition pushed for the inquiry because Defence had spent $600,000 in a costly whitewash auditing itself after continual concerns were raised about the fairness of the tender process, which was described by the report as having a ‘notorious history of controversy’.

The tender was awarded last year to an airline broker using Portuguese aircraft to transport Defence personnel and equipment to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).

A Defence Reservist was alleged to have revealed confidential tender information to the successful company and then obtained employment with that company.

Senator Johnston said even though the Committee found no compelling evidence of outright fraud; the use of insider knowledge; or of designing the tender to unfairly favour a preferred tenderer, Defence should take no comfort from these findings.

“The whole sorry business has an aroma to it even though there was no outright smoking gun. This tender process was found to be plain sloppy and I hope the committee’s recommendations will go a long way to ensure this never happens again,” Senator Johnston

said.

“On the positive side, I think it’s a living breathing example of the Senate’s parliamentary system working effectively and well to set out the issues so that the public can have some confidence that when we send our men and women into battle, we do so with due care and attention as to the airline and the transport services we provide for them,”

Senator Johnston said.

The full report is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/fadt_ctte/aviation/report/index.htm