Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Johnston. I refer the minister to the Treasurer's interview on Radio National this morning, when he explicitly ruled out an open tender process for Australia's Future Submarine project. Is this the government's position?
I thank the senator for the question. This, firstly, is not a hysterical issue that seeks to put national security interests ahead of Labor union mates' interests. The government's approach, as I have said on several occasions, is that in order to seek to prevent a capability gap, the government will follow the Kinnaird reforms to Defence procurement. It is interesting to note—because I was quite surprised to find this when I had a look back over the records—that, since July 2007, 77 major Defence acquisitions were completed by the Labor Party. Of the 77, 70 per cent were single-source procurements. That is, there was no tender. They just simply went to the contract.
I have said that what we will do is—in the ordinary course of business, as we have always done—a first and second pass process that is open and transparent. It is clear that Labor has said more on submarines in the last six weeks than ever they did in six years. Because of inaction, ignorance and a lack of understanding of the need to have—
You are verballing me, as you are want to do when you do not get the answer that you want. I said to you that the government will conduct its acquisition of what is our biggest and most complex Defence acquisition. In the ordinary course of events, the Auditor-General will be looking over the government's shoulder. Everything will be above board, according to Hoyle, and we will get the job done—
after six years of inaction and after six years of prevarication. It has gone from four options to two options that were fantasy. What a fraud was perpetrated on the Australian people: 'We are going to have 12 submarines.' Guess what? We have nothing. We actually delivering the program starting from scratch, because you did nothing.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Were South Australian Senators Edwards, Ruston and Fawcett consulted prior to the Treasurer's announcement, given their previous public support for a competitive tender?