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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 217 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, there is no hidden agenda. There is no desire, as Mr Cornwell suggests, to close out a particular organisation. What there is a desire for is to make sure that there is a fair and transparent process in the allocation of a significant amount of taxpayers' money. It is the same requirement that any other member would expect in this place for any other project where we are spending more than $50,000. It is a significant amount of money. I think if this government came to this place and said we are not going to proceed with a public tender process for an amount of more than $50,000, we would be asked questions about that.

There are public interest issues associated with going to a single select process or going to a direct allocation without a tender process. I accept there may be circumstances where you do not go to a tender process. But I do not believe in this case that this is one of them. A pilot scheme has been undertaken by the Lone Fathers Association. It was evaluated and a decision was taken to proceed to a tender on the most appropriate provider.

Mr Cornwell raised the question, "What is going to be provided here?" What is going to be provided is what is set out in the tender documents, which are publicly available. Anyone can get a copy of those tender documents and they outline what the service is that the territory is asking be provided and what the criteria are for the assessment of tenders. It is a very transparent process; it is a very fair process.

The government believes there is a need to provide this level of service, this type of service. The efforts of the Lone Fathers Association in putting up the proposal initially and highlighting the need are to be commended. But as with any other service, it is appropriate to test a new service through a tender process, and that is what this government intends to do. There is no hidden agenda but there is a desire for a fair and transparent process.

MR STEFANIAK (12.08): Mr Corbell has just come into the job and I am sure that he certainly and his government have no hidden agenda. I appreciate that. What we are talking about here is not changing a tender process. We are talking, in fact, about enhancing the process-enhancing and ensuring there is fair and transparent treatment.

Mr Corbell, as you are probably well aware, this service came about as a result of a direct promise that we made in 1998. We stipulated who would get it then on the basis that that was a group with expertise, and I do not think there were any other groups who would provide that type of service. You now tell me that through a tender process you have four groups interested. That is very pleasing, Mr Corbell, in that now, some 31/2 to four years down the track, we have some more people in the ball park, and there is indeed a lot of unmet need here.

Tender processes have to be fair, they have to be transparent, and indeed what goes on before has to be fair and transparent. I am not in a position to comment whether anyone has got hidden agendas here or not. I simply do not know. I am not going to make any comments in relation to the tender process. I don't know the people on it, save for one who I think will be the chair. As a bureaucrat she has worked very well with me for a number of years in a number of capacities and I have utmost confidence in her.

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