Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2126 ..
Mr Berry: You are trying to find reason not to - - -
MRS CARNELL: What I have said is true. These are not the only critical products involved. As well, we have parts for the lifts and air-conditioning units in ACT Government buildings; but of major concern is the fact that a number of pharmaceuticals used in our health system and for which there is no alternative source are also affected by this motion. It is in contexts like these that we need to question our responsibility to our constituents. Mr Speaker, these are just a few of the major issues to be addressed in the task facing the Government.
In all, I am advised that the list of products purchased by the Government numbers between 200,000 and 500,000. As members would appreciate, the identification of all French-manufactured goods, or partly French-manufactured goods, in a list of this size would involve the application of significant resources. To add to this, the ACT Government purchases a wide range of products from Commonwealth and New South Wales government period contracts. Details of the manufacturing source and the manufacturer of these products are not readily available. It is relatively easy to identify such items as the Renault buses and their components and other well-known French products. However, there is a significant range of goods of French manufacture that are not easily identifiable.
The identification of products with French components is further complicated in that France participates in the European Union manufacturing agreements. Any product made in Europe potentially includes raw materials sourced in France, as well as individual parts and assemblies. There is no practical method of identifying levels of French participation in any particular product. In addition, the accuracy of any list of products sourced from France would be dependent on advice from suppliers. As the progress report notes, the issue then arises of supplier willingness to include on such a list products which they supply.
Mr Berry has railed in the media about the Government using the management plan for implementing the Assembly motion on French products as a tactic to delay action. Mr Speaker, I can assure you that the Government takes its duty to the Assembly very seriously. As members can see from the report, a lot of ground has already been covered in moving to implement the motion. However, as I stated before, the motion is very broad and initial costings indicate that, as a beginning, the Government would be spending in excess of $20,000 just to complete the audit phase of the task.
Mr Berry: A small price to pay.
MRS CARNELL: Mr Berry says, "A small price to pay". I must admit that I doubt that. I believe that the ACT does need to make a definite stand on this issue. I also believe that in a time of budgetary constraint there would be no support in the community for the Government to spend a large amount of money implementing a very broad motion which would impact negatively on innocent members of our own community. This would do nothing to enhance the effectiveness or credibility of this Assembly. I assure members that I remain committed to the idea of French companies