Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021


Infrastructure, Snowy Hydro

1:46 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

In September 2020, I asked the Minister for Finance and his department about infrastructure projects being scoped and packaged so their value meant that only tier 1 contractors could bid for the work. Then and now, there were no Australian tier 1 contractors. That means Australian businesses are unable to be considered for these projects: Australian companies are locked out of bidding for Australian government contracts. This continues to be the case here in Australia and, of course, it's a great disadvantage to those businesses. We see foreign companies squeeze the supply chain and then transfer money to their home jurisdiction, paying very little tax.

The department's position was that there was no requirement under the procurement rules that projects be of a certain size or delivered by a certain type of company. They also pointed out that they're often delivered through states and territories. That's a cop-out. The Commonwealth rules should apply to all Commonwealth monies. We should test the economic benefit that flows from the expenditure of taxpayers' money. That involves Australian jobs, Australian investment and Australian supply chain activity.

I note that Snowy Hydro is a government owned GBE and has the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction and the Minister for Finance on the board. They're now scoping packages of steel fabrication on Snowy 2.0 which rule out Australian suppliers. More than 70 per cent of Snowy Hydro steel will be produced overseas. That is a tragedy and nothing like the nation-building project of Snowy 1.0. (Time expired)