Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1611..
MR BERRY: My question is to the Chief Minister and it arises out of some evidence which was given to the Estimates Committee inquiry in public forum about the restrictions that Totalcare places on itself when it is tendering for public works. For example, Totalcare was unable to tender for a multi-million job on the Monaro Highway because it was more than the $3 million limit that Totalcare places on itself. Mrs Burke might not have been there at the time, but if she had been she would have noticed that we had broken through the chocolate coating on the government's budget at this point. This $3 million limit, which is self-imposed, prevented it from tendering for this multi-million dollar road upgrade and somebody else got the job.
My question is in relation to Totalcare and its tendering arrangements in relation to the Canberra Airport runway upgrade. Did Totalcare, through its joint venture company, Williamsdale Operations, tender for the Canberra Airport runway upgrade? If not, why not?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I do not know. I will take that question on notice.
MR BERRY: While he is doing that and talking to Totalcare, will the Chief Minister, the shareholder, issue instructions to Totalcare to remove those artificial barriers to its tendering and profitability which prevent it from properly competing in the marketplace and protecting Totalcare jobs?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, what sorts of shareholders would Mr Smyth and I be if we were to go and tell Totalcare how to do its business in a field of its own expertise?
Mr Berry: As shareholders who own it on behalf of the territory.
MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, I know we do, but we do not go and say to it, "You should put a bit of tar on the road now, put the bit of asphalt on top of that and then roll it three times before you go back and do the next bit of the road." That is not our area of expertise and shareholders should not interfere in that. Totalcare has decided to set itself limits on what it does effectively and well and to work within those limits, Mr Speaker. The government has not told Totalcare, "Don't bid at certain limits or don't bid for certain things." That is a matter for Totalcare to determine, and in this case-
Mr Berry: You did not mind telling them they should have no less than 50 per cent of the quarry. You did not mind telling them that.
MR HUMPHRIES: Listen to the answer to the answer, Mr Berry. The fact is that Totalcare makes these decisions off its own bat, based on what it sees as commercial reality. It does not tender for certain work because it does not believe it has the capacity to compete effectively in that area; not because the government says, "Don't touch certain sorts of work," as if we would do that for the sake of gratuitously hogtying Totalcare in its day-to-day operations. We want Totalcare to succeed. We believe it has the capacity to do very well.