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Government must come clean on $5 Billion defence contract.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

15 December 2003


The Howard Government needs to fully reveal the findings of an investigation into claims a $5 billion defence contract was rigged.

It was earlier revealed that a whistleblower in Defence made serious allegations about the manipulation of the tender process for a 20 year contract worth $5 billion for the supply of helicopters to the Defence forces. It was claimed that the process had been manipulated to ensure a US company won the contract.

It is not good enough for the Government to now just issue a three-sentence statement saying ‘everything is okay’.

Given the scale of the contract taxpayers have a right to a full explanation.

The Minister for Defence continues to withhold information on the allegations and the subsequent investigation. Robert Hill obviously thinks that taxpayers have no right to know how billions of their funds are spent.

How can the public have any confidence in a system that internally investigates allegations of corruption and then refuses to release any details of those investigations?

These allegations came on top of a series of bungled procurement projects by the Howard Government, which have cost taxpayers billions. These include:

• the 40 year old Seasprite helicopters that cost $1.1 billion and are three years behind schedule;

• the upgrade of the frigates which will cost $1.5 billion, is two years late and will not upgrade all six ships; and

• the Government’s intervention to buy a torpedo that cost an extra $200 million and is too heavy for our submarines.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617