Arscott in the hot seat

Arscott in the hot seat

Opposition MPs and senators probe contracts at NSWMA

Alicia Dunkley - Inside Parliament

Sunday, February 26, 2012

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LESS than a week after local government minister Noel Arscott was put on the spot in the Lower House about operations at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), more questions are being raised about the entity, but this time in the Senate.

During last Tuesday's sitting of Parliament, Opposition spokesperson for local government, Desmond McKenzie posed questions to Arscott relating to a developing controversy about changes to security arrangements at the authority, with the expectation that he would have answers in 21 days.

Friday, Opposition Senator Robert "Bobby" Montague, who served as minister with responsibility for local government under the previous administration, put Leader of Government Business in the Senate AJ Nicholson in the hot seat, demanding answers to questions about staffing at the NSWMA.

Montague said the Government must declare "how many persons have been rotated, dismissed or have had their contacts terminated since January 2012". He also wants to be told the total cost to the NSWMA for redundancy or termination payments for these persons.

The Opposition senator said the administration which ousted his party from office in December last year must also state how many contracts have been issued by the agency since January this year and provide a breakdown as to how many are trucking contracts, how many are employment contracts, how many are for roving teams, and the total value of those contracts. Montague has also asked that the minister state, in respect of the contracts issued by the National Solid Waste Management Agency since January 2012, how many are valued $4 million, and how many of the contractors have Tax Compliance Certificates and are approved by the National Contracts Commission.

He said the Government must also say how many of these contracts were subject to competitive bidding, how many were by the direct contract method, and if subject to competitive bidding, when they were advertised. Montague also wants to be told where are the contracts located, the identity of the contractors, and how many contractors were recommended by their members of parliament.

In the questions tabled at last Tuesday's sitting of the House of Representatives McKenzie called on Arscott to "state which officer of the NSWMA took the decision to seek to terminate the services of the company which currently provides security services to the authority".

He also wanted to know who decided to try to hire a new security firm for the agency.

"Will the minister state which officer of the NSWMA took the decision to seek to engage EAP Security Services by way of the Direct Contract Procurement Methodology?" McKenzie asked.

He has also asked Arscott to state whether these decisions had the approval of the board of the authority and to say who the principals of EAP Security Services are.

McKenzie said Arscott must also state on what basis the NSWMA is considering engaging the services of the security firm, including the rates quoted by the said company, and its record of providing services to any government agency.

While he awaits the answers, he has asked that the minister confirm whether the Office of the Contractor General has expressed concerns regarding the intention to award the security services contract to EAP Security Services.

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