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Estimates: Government's secret 10-year contract with private company to deliver a new ticketing system

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Tuesday 2 August 2022, I asked about the secret 10-year contract the Government signed with private company Cubic to deliver its new "smart ticketing" system.

You can read the department's answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I will put my first question to the director-general. I have asked about this before, but I am keen to follow up in light of the smart ticketing system that is currently being rolled out at a cost of $371 million. Mr Scales, what are the operating costs for TransLink’s smart ticketing system under the government’s 10-year contract with Cubic, both in the first full year of operation and over the whole 10-year term of the contract with Cubic?

Mr Scales: I thank the honourable member for the question. It is probably commercial-inconfidence and that is probably what I said last time. I do not want to speculate at this point, because the project—along with lots of other projects—have been affected by COVID and supply chain issues. One of the things that we are reliant upon is so-called ‘integrated circuits’ or ‘chips’. There is a worldwide shortage of integrated circuits. It has been in the press that the project has been delayed because of supply chain issues, so I cannot really speculate, or give you an opinion now that would help. Also, you are asking me to determine something that is ten years in advance. Therefore, again, I would not be able to help the committee by speculating at this point. I am sorry I cannot be any more definitive at this point in time.

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you, Mr Scales. I seek clarity on a point of order. You would be aware of the comments from the Deputy Premier last week around estimates and commercial-in-confidence, where he observed that the estimates process requires a level of rigour that is over and above the restrictions of commercial-in-confidence. He referred to legal advice to that effect. Can I seek a ruling from you about whether the witness can be required to answer questions that cross over to the issue of commercial-in-confidence and that he be compelled to do so?

CHAIR: I understand your point of order; I have sought some advice. Every contract is different. What the Deputy Premier referred to is the Deputy Premier’s one, so that the director-general is able to, he may be able to furnish you with some more information, if you have another question but I cannot rule in the way you want, sorry.

Mr Scales: If it helps the committee and the member for Maiwar, the contract is being delivered by Cubic, who are an international world organisation. I would not be comfortable releasing any commercial information at all because that could be used against them not just in Australia, but elsewhere. It is commercial-in-confidence and Cubic won that on an international competitive tender basis. I do understand what you are saying about commercial-in-confidence and what the Deputy Premier may or may not have said, but I will take the chair’s guidance, as well. Each contract is different, but as far as I am concerned, it was commercial-in-confidence, the process was competitive and I cannot see a way I can release any of that information.

Mr BERKMAN: Absolutely. I am happy for us to deal with this later. I appreciate your ruling, Chair. We will take it up with the Speaker through the appropriate channels.

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