Less than two weeks before contract negotiations are supposed to have been concluded for providing Australia’s international TV service, it’s been revealed negotiations are yet to begin, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
The ABC’s current five-year Australia Network contract worth about $20 million per annum with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) expires on 8 August, and DFAT tender documents state that contract negotiations should be concluded by 8 June.
Under questioning from Senator Birmingham in Senate Budget Estimates, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott today confirmed they’re yet to even start contract negotiations with anyone.
“The critical date is the 8th of June. I think there was an expectation that by early May that those final negotiation processes would have commenced but that hasn’t happened at this point and we wait for advice.”
Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director, Senate Budget Estimates, 26 May 2011
“With just 13 scheduled days left to conclude negotiations, the Gillard Government should explain this apparent delay in Australia Network contract negotiations,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Is it that Foreign Affairs Minister and moon traveller Kevin Rudd is spending so much time out of the country he is unable to still run his department too?
“Or, given his love of seeing himself on the screen, does Mr Rudd need more time to remake Australia Network into Network Kevin 747?
“Although Mr Rudd is not exactly known for his consideration of the public servants working for him he should appreciate that there are hundreds of Australia Network employees whose lives are currently on hold waiting for him to make a decision.”