‘Level playing field’ questioned in procurement report

A Senate inquiry has recommended Commonwealth procurement consider the broader benefits of buying locally, days after a South Australian boot maker was overlooked for a major Defence contract.

News Corp reports that the inquiry, chaired by Labor’s Kate Lundy, and initiated by Senators John Madigan (Democratic Labor Part) and Nick Xenophon (independent), recommended that the current value-for-money considerations also include the broader effects of local procurement.

“Witnesses made clear to the committee that the value-for-money proposition is not merely a matter of comparing prices,” News Corp reports Lundy as saying.

“This issue goes to the heart of how Australian industry has opportunities to compete on a level playing field.”

The report comes after South Australian company Rossi was overlooked for a contract to provide up to 100,000 boots to the Defence Materiel Organisation.

The $15 million contract was awarded to an importer, Blue Steel Boots, with the boots manufactured in Indonesia.

“The company was unsuccessful for one of the boots, because they were more expensive than the successful bidder,” a spokesman for the Defence minister told the ABC earlier this week.

The government’s minority report said that there was no need to change procurement policies with “artificial protections”, and that 80 per cent of goods procured in 2012-13 were from Australian suppliers.

Image: News Corp

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