Government dithering over IT policy is likely to deprive local PC assemblers of any benefits that may arise from the latest RFT from Canberra.
The draft RFT for Cluster 3 covers the pro- vision for IT and telecommunications services to the Australian Electoral Commission, Department of Administrative Services, Department of Immigration and the Australian Industrial Property Organisation.
It is estimated the five-year contract will be worth up to $3 billion. Bids from prime contractors tendering for the contract will be more favourably received if they partner with local PC vendors rather than multinationals.
"The whole government tendering process is very confusing," said Rowan Macdonald, the manager for industry issues and government purchasing at the Australian Information Industry Association."
"For example, just last week the Prime Minister announced the abolition of Admin Services," said Macdonald. "So where does that leave what's left of its IT operation? Will it be folded into Finance or somebody like Veteran's Affairs?"
The positive spin
Bruce McCabe, a senior industry analyst with Gartner Group/Dataquest, said the positive spin in favour of local IT companies was likely to be short-lived.
"I can't see the Government discriminating against the multinationals when it's spent years badgering them into doing more in this country through such schemes as Partnership for Development," said McCabe.
"Many of these companies have spent millions setting up local manufacturing operations to compete with the locals and gain equal treatment from the Government."
The AIIA's Macdonald said that encouraging local companies would be better achieved by such measures as taxation reform.
Rob Hartnett, market development manager at Hewlett-Packard Australia, said the Government had a lack of understanding of PC manufacturing. HP recently opened a local PC configuration centre.
"We're in the same position as Australian-owned assemblers," said Hartnett. "We buy chips, drives and motherboards from overseas and we put them together here," said Hartnett.
"We employ Australians, pay Australian taxes and reinvest in Australia. What's the difference?"