Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Thursday, 21 February 2019
Under parliamentary privilege, Bill Shorten and Jim Chalmers made a number of grossly inaccurate assertions in relation to previous tender decisions on whole-of-government travel arrangements, which would otherwise be defamatory.
In relation to the 2014 decision to appoint QBT Pty Ltd as the new whole-of-government travel management services provider for a period of four years:
Firstly, this was not a decision by me as Minister or by the Government.
It was a procurement decision, which like all other procurement decisions in my portfolio made during my period as Finance Minister, was the result of an independent competitive tender process.
Secondly, and more importantly, QBT/Helloworld back then was actually competing with Mr Andrew Burnes and the AOT business he was then the CEO of.
In fact, AOT participated in that tender and was unsuccessful.
In contrast, AOT and Mr Burnes were first awarded the whole-of-government Accommodation Program Management Services contract back in 2012 – that is during Labor’s last period in Government.
It is this contract, which was renewed in 2017 as a result of another independent tender process and on substantially better terms for the Commonwealth and taxpayers.
While both the 2012 and 2014 contracts were appropriately subject to independent competitive tender processes, under the flawed Shorten/Chalmers Labor logic in the House of Representatives today – it was Labor which decided to give a contract to a Liberal donor, whereas the Liberal-National Government awarded the 2014 contract Labor is criticising now to his competitor.
ASX records show that AOT only merged with Helloworld/QBT in early 2016, well after the independent tender decision made by the Finance Department back in 2014, which Mr Shorten and Mr Chalmers referenced in their inaccurate and baseless attack today.
Mr Shorten and Mr Chalmers could have and should have reviewed that material ASX announcement before launching such an unsubstantiated parliamentary attack.
Mr Shorten and Mr Chalmers should apologise for their baseless and inaccurate smear, which the most basic and rudimentary research would have exposed as such.
Finally – given the hours of evidence I provided in Senate Estimates earlier this week, both Mr Shorten and Mr Chalmers know (or at least should know), that I did not seek or obtain free travel.
The travel was never paid for by Helloworld as wrongly asserted by Labor as part of an increasingly desperate attempt to smear. It was booked with Helloworld, I supplied my credit card to pay for it at the time of making the booking, when the payment was not processed as the result of an administrative error on behalf of the company it remained listed as an outstanding debt, which was paid immediately when I was first notified that payment had not been processed.
Karen Wu - 0428 350 139