Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4139 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
interesting to hear that the Federal Government has dramatically slowed its outsourcing activities. You would have to wonder whether it has achieved the benefits that were claimed for it. In fact, if you look at the annual report, you do get a clue to this. On page 10 it says:
When CanDeliver was set up, expectations were that outsourcing would progress rapidly in the public sector, there would be extensive contracting out of corporate services functions and that high returns might be possible for suppliers. Time has shown that government outsourcing processes sometimes are taking more than 12 months to complete. While there is an overall policy to outsource, there is no central government body oversighting the corporate and support services outsourcing process and agency heads are left to decide when and if projects will proceed.
In the latter part of the financial year, Commonwealth Government experiences caused many agencies to reconsider their own policies on outsourcing. A fraud at DoFA, poor performances by some subcontractors and risk transfer and sharing methodologies have all created sensitivities and, as a result, there was a slowdown in contracting out by agencies.
It is also interesting to note the confusion within the Liberal ideology between supporting free market competition and supporting local business. On the one hand it wants to open everything up to the market and let individual companies fight it out in the survival of the fittest. On the other hand it wanted to protect local businesses against interstate and even international large businesses who were competing for the outsourcing contracts. It is interesting to compare this with what has actually been happening with the World Trade Organisation discussion. If you have liberalisation of trade to the degree that the WTO is discussing, if free trade is allowed to rule supreme, then what the ACT Government did with CanDeliver would be seen to be totally against the rules. They would not have been allowed even to attempt to do that. That is a really interesting point to make at this time because I am sure we are going to have to be having this discussion much more well into the future.
I am also interested in the tone of this annual report in light of this motion today. You just have to wonder about the accuracy of information that is provided in annual reports of organisations like CanDeliver. The latest CanDeliver report basically presents a glowing picture of the potential of its operations which has very quickly been overturned. I will quote from page 4 of the report from the chairman where he says this:
During 1998-99, CanDeliver has been able to show considerable strength in an emerging market, winning about 50 per cent of its bids; contracts in the Commonwealth Government sector, and indeed, one of the primary agency contracts - for the portfolio of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Some work has also been undertaken for the ACT Government.