Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. Is it correct that the participants in the future submarine competitive evaluation process were required to submit their final bids on 30 November 2015? Is it also correct that in January of this year Defence issued a data item description that altered the contractual requirements of the process and gave the participants an opportunity to revise their bids?
To the best of my recollection, Senator Conroy was in estimates when this matter was discussed and explained in some detail by Rear Admiral Greg Sammut, the head of the Future Submarine office. Yes, the responses from the international participants were received by the government on 30 November last year. The discussion in relation to the updates that the senator has referred to did occur in January, yes.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, why was it necessary for Defence to change the contractual requirements for the future submarine competitive evaluation process after final bids were received? Was it the case that one of the participants did not meet the original contractual requirements of the competitive evaluation process? If so, which participant was it?
Senator Conroy, in response to your question I would indicate again that Rear Admiral Greg Sammut went through this in some detail with you in the committee in estimates. I do not regard it as a change in contractual requirements. I have nothing further to add to the discussion that was held in some detail in estimates.
I note that the minister did not answer the question of whether one of the participants did not meet the original contractual requirements. Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister name another multibillion dollar defence procurement where the criteria have been modified after final tenders were received to ensure a participant was able to meet Defence's requirements? Minister, how can the Australian public have confidence in the probity of this process if the government is changing the criteria after it is closed?
I go back to what I said. I do not agree with Senator Conroy's premise that the data item descriptions constitute a change in the contractual arrangements and I am most certainly not going to canvass the contributions of the participants. This is a competitive evaluation process which is underway and upon which the government will make a decision in due course in 2016.