Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2071 ..
MR DE DOMENICO (continuing):
The question of possible conflict of interest was canvassed prior to formal award of the contract by the Department of Urban Services. The contract services unit of the Department of Urban Services confirmed verbally that correct procedures were followed. Mr Hird's status as an MLA was not a consideration in the selection process - and I stress that. The Department of Urban Services having followed correct procedures laid out by the former Labor Government, there was no conflict of interest. Harold Hird and Associates and all other tenderers whose submissions were received by the department by the close of business on 6 October were notified of the result in writing on 9 October. On 10 October Mr Michael Hawkins from Capital Property Auctions, who was also invited to tender and did tender, but obviously unsuccessfully, raised concerns verbally with Transport Regulation regarding a possible conflict of interest in Harold Hird and Associates receiving a contract from the ACT Government to conduct the auction.
Mr Connolly: This is new. You were alerted to conflict of interest. Good. Keep going.
MR DE DOMENICO: No, I was not alerted at all. The department was alerted, Mr Connolly. I have kept right away from the process. A PAQ regarding this complaint was prepared on 17 October. In addition to the seven auctioneers who were telephoned by Transport Regulation and submitted tenders, an unsolicited proposal was received through a Mr Reg Abbey, who represents a Sydney company called Hymans Auctioneers. While the proposal provided no direct fee to the Government, it proposed a one per cent buyers premium, calculated on the bid price, to be charged to the buyer. So the freebie that everybody has been talking about would have pocketed Mr Hymans, or whoever he was, on yesterday's prices, $24,000. Boy, would that have been a good deal for the Government! This was assessed as likely to persuade any prudent purchaser to lower his or her bid by the amount of the premium and in practical terms - and in actual terms as of yesterday - would have pocketed Hymans $24,000.
In addition, the proposed buyer premium is not provided for - and this is important - in the terms and conditions of auction which I tabled the other day and which all people who had been invited to tender were given a copy of. They had already been made available to the inquirers also. In this context, the bid would be considered non-conforming. First of all, it was a non-conforming bid and could not have been considered anyway. Secondly, this so-called freebie would have pocketed the auctioneer $24,000 - not a $250 flat fee, but $24,000. By gee, did we do a bad deal on this one! As the bid was assessed as non-competitive and non-conforming, the applicant was advised in writing that the submission was unsuccessful. The department, by the way, ascertained that Hymans was represented in the Canberra region very recently by a Mr Reg Abbey. As Mr Abbey advertises as an individual in the Canberra directory and is not known to the department, he was not selected for invitation to tender.
I am advised that on 18 October Mr Abbey from Hymans raised concern with Transport Regulation, stating that their quote could not be unsuccessful, had to be successful, as their proposal would be of no cost to the ACT Government. He was going to pocket $24,000, mind you, but his bid had to be successful, because he wanted it of course! He was going to pocket $24,000. No wonder he wanted his bid to be successful.