Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Sept 2015 Contents 31
Commonwealth procurement governance regimes
and due process.
There are four problems with what is occurring.
Firstly, and particularly noting the shielding strategies
applied by Credlin with respect to Prime Ministerial
access, there is no contestability in the advice the PM
receives. No-one can get to the PM to alert him to the
counter-idea that a Japanese submarine co-operation
program risks economic retaliation from China. No-one
can properly advocate the economic benefits that
may flow from an Adelaide build; neo-con geopolitics
may just unravel the economy of South Australia.
This represents a perversion of governance, a most
serious and dangerous situation, to which even the
perpetrators are oblivious to.
Secondly, when the organisation and environment
it is operating in are taken into consideration, there
are grounds to call the process a sham. Australian
Ministers and senior officials with whom we repose
trust and confidence may well be unknowingly
misleading foreign counterparts and foreign industry
players. In addition, if the Japanese pick has
already been made, the European companies will
suffer the reputational damage of losing in what is
being presented internationally as a fair and open
competition. The Swedes, who were advised of their
removal the evening before the CEP was announced,
may have already suffered in this regard.
Thirdly, and an extension of the point above, is that
the population of Australia is being misled, by the
very people they entrust to look after their interests.
They have been told there will be a fair evaluation
process with openness and transparency, but are
then not given any detailed answers to questions
asked about that process.
Finally, our submariners might not get the capability
they deserve and the taxpayer will get short changed
on national security.
DERAIL THE PROCESS
There are now forces in play to derail the entire
The most obvious is the Labor Party’s June Senate
Estimates pursuit of Sean Costello, who took up the
role of CEO DCNS Australia only four months after
departing the Minister’s office alongside Johnston. The
Costello dilemma can be viewed from two different but
valid perspectives. The first viewing angle is that of the
punter; seeing a man of integrity dumped alongside
his Minister from his well-paid COS position, taking
up employment with one of the CEP participants who
seeks to benefit from his skills. The second viewing
angle is that of an informed fair minded observer
(or probity officer); cognisant of the advantage that
Costello possesses, having been exposed to internal
government deliberations and competitor’s information
which he simply can’t ‘unknow’ when making
judgement calls and providing direction, as a CEO
must do. It is interesting to note that The Australian
recently reported that the French camp have floated
the idea of co-operating with Japan on the basis that
“it was believed the Australian preference was, for
strategic reasons, to award the contract to Japan”.
Second is the plan to expose the CEP as a sham;
an activity being conducted with vigour by Labor
and Senator Xenophon (who is clearly backing
South Australia, but has a nose for seeking out and
exposing irregularity; most recently with FIFA).
Third is a plan to use South Australian Federal
seats as a catalyst to replay a revised and more
robust ‘Sean Edward’s” ultimatum to Abbott.
But there are others forces at play too; forces
too sensitive to publish details of. The reader is just
going to have to watch to see what comes around
A PROPER SUBMARINE
All that aside, one must not lose sight of the fact
that the Japanese build good submarines. The Soryu
would need to be up-spec’ed and the Japanese
have never exported submarines - both issues that
introduce risk. But the French and German solutions
are not without risk either.
The future submarine project is one of national
importance. The capability must be acquired in an
open and transparent manner and in an environment
of contestability. It must be decided upon by
competition conducted under fair and equal terms,
and on the merits.
It’s not too late to do that.
Australian Ministers and senior officials with whom we repose trust and
confidence may well be unknowingly misleading foreign counterparts and
foreign industry players.
The Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarine HMAS Sheean
(SSG 77) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after participating
in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/Released).
HMAS Rankin returns to her home port of Fleet Base West.
20/08/2015 5:00:58 PM
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