Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
In relation to the matters raised in the media today about my private travel in January 2018, I refer to the attached letter from Helloworld, which explains their administrative error.
I can also confirm that the travel booked through Helloworld back in July 2017 was on commercial terms and should have been charged to my credit card straight away as instructed by me at the time.
That is what I genuinely thought had happened.
At no point, until approached by the media yesterday, did I receive any reminders that the payment due remained outstanding, even though I now understand it appeared as outstanding and unresolved on the internal Helloworld system since that time.
The payment was processed immediately once it became apparent to me that it remained outstanding.
In relation to the Whole of Government Accommodation Program Management Services tender I can confirm that I had absolutely no involvement in either the selection of the preferred tenderer or the awarding of the contract.
When notified of the outcome of the tender, I was advised that the new contract was valued at $21 million for the initial term to 30 June 2020 (and not $1 billion as reported today).
AOT was first selected as the successful supplier of whole of government Accommodation Program Management Services in May 2012 – during the period of the previous Labor Government.
No doubt the tender process awarding this contract to AOT back in 2012 was conducted appropriately at arms-length from the government of the day, in the same way as it was on this occasion.
Over the five years of that initial agreement from 2012 to 2017, my advice is that this arrangement saved the Commonwealth an estimated $63 million.
The subsequent tender process, also conducted at arms-length from government by the Department of Finance, further improved on those previous arrangements, delivering even better value for the Commonwealth, by securing a reduction in APM booking fees of 42 per cent, saving approximately $4.5 million annually compared to the fees paid in 2015-16.
This tender process was conducted consistent with all of the appropriate probity protocols, including oversight by external probity and legal advisers, who I’m advised certified that the process complied with the requirements in the PGPA Act, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, Commonwealth policies and was consistent with the probity plan, Request for Tender and Evaluation Plan.
At no point did I influence or seek to influence the outcome of that tender process.
I had absolutely no role in the awarding of this tender or during the subsequent contract negotiations with the preferred tenderer.
I was provided with some feedback by the preferred tenderer about aspects of the process.
Consistent with my standard practice, I refer anyone who raises issues with me in relation to these types of processes directly to the Department for their consideration of any issues if and as appropriate at arms-length from me. That’s what happened on this occasion.
Karen Wu - 0428 350 139