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VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE: A CONFLICT OF INTEREST

More than a year of Labor denial has been exposed by Auditor-General Simon O'Neill in his report into the Tourism Commission’s Visitor Information Centre.

“Since 2011 the Government has maintained that moving the State’s Tourist Information Centre from a prime King William St office to a Grenfell Street basement was all above board, even if it was underground,” Shadow Tourism Minister David Ridgway said today.

“Now we find – just as the State Liberals suspected – that things weren’t quite as kosher as the Government would have us believe and the proof is in the Auditor-General’s report.”

The underground Grenfell Street building to which the Visitor Centre relocated was owned by Mr Bob Foord. The move was initiated while Mr Foord was chair of the Commission.

The Grenfell Street centre was to be run by a company called Holidays of Australia, which won the contract. Mr Foord’s son-in-law, Ben Mead, became the head of Holidays of Australia. 

The Auditor-General has found deficiencies and shortcomings in the contract process.

“There was no detailed evaluation report supporting the recommendation of the preferred tenderer,” Mr Ridgway said.

“The purchase recommendation did not detail outcomes of individual evaluation processes, including reasons for decisions of evaluation team.

“Conflict of interest declarations were not completed by one evaluation team member and couldn’t be located for another.

“The report which recommended the preferred tenderer: 

  • Didn’t provide details of assessment results;

  • Didn’t provide clarifications which had been asked for;

  • Didn’t provide the outcome of diligence checks; and

  • Didn’t detail the reasons for selecting Holidays of Australia as the preferred tenderer.

“The Request for Proposal document outlining probity expectations included the requirement to declare any actual or potential conflict of interest,” Mr O’Neill says.

His inquiry found “Certain tender documents did not declare potential or actual conflicts of interest,” and the Purchase Recommendation document also made no mention of the probity advice on conflict of interest matters.

“I’m particularly concerned that the risk management processes were non-compliant and at the lack of documentation,” said Mr Ridgway.

“I find it appalling that there were numerous instances of non-compliance with State Procurement Board policies, and that the Commission even made payments to the tenderer before it ensured relevant contractual conditions had been satisfied.

“Labor can’t hide from the Auditor-General like it’s been hiding from the public. The Government is responsible for the Tourist Commission. Government can’t just shift the blame onto some anonymous bureaucrat. Hasn’t Labor heard of Ministerial responsibility?” Mr Ridgway asked.

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