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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2070 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

I think it was a test of Mrs Carnell's leadership. She has faced other tests in relation to Mr De Domenico and failed. On this occasion I think that the Chief Minister has failed again to make clear to her Ministers, her backbench members and the community that she expects the very highest standard of ethics and behaviour from every member of her team. She has failed the test again.

MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services) (11.01): I will repeat what I said before. Ms Follett was told by the ACT community on 18 February, "We want you to go from the second floor to the first floor". She has taken it a step further this morning. She has gone right into the gutter. She has put her hands into the same trough that some of her colleagues have been using for the past two weeks, and what has she brought up? Absolutely zilch.

Mr Speaker, the Government's decision to release 15 additional taxi licences was announced on 21 September 1995. Immediately following that announcement, arrangements were commenced for the licences to be auctioned, and 25 October was selected as the nearest appropriate date which would permit adequate notice to prospective buyers. The conditions of auction were determined, and advertising commenced on Saturday, 7 October. Mr Speaker, interestingly, auctions in previous years have been undertaken by private auctioneers for a flat fee of less than $1,000. Procurement guidelines provide that for contracts exceeding $2,000 but less than $5,000 three written quotations are required. This provision was confirmed with the contracts unit of the Department of Urban Services.

However, as auctioneers not invited to tender in the past have complained on previous occasions, it was decided by the Department of Urban Services to invite submissions from all auctioneers listed under the general auctioneer heading in the Canberra telephone directory Yellow Pages as trading under business or company names. That is important. This criterion was chosen to give the opportunity to a wider range of applicants but also to attempt to ensure that the chosen tenderer was an established business entity. Last year three were invited; this year, seven. Seven auctioneers were identified in the Canberra telephone directory as meeting the specified criterion and all seven were invited to tender.

Invitations were issued by telephone on 27 September 1995, seeking tenders of a flat rate fee. Tenders closed on 6 October 1995. Companies invited to tender were advised that advertising and venue would be arranged by the Department of Urban Services as in previous years and, as I have said, advertising costs were $1,997 and the price to hire the Albert Hall was $118. Submissions from the seven organisations invited to tender were received by close of business on 6 October. The lowest flat fee tender was received from Harold Hird and Associates. The Hird tender was $250, and the contract was awarded on that basis by the Department of Urban Services. This company conducted the auction of taxi licences in 1994, I am advised, and was assessed as having undertaken the task in a competent and professional manner.

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