Questions on the Watt Review


QUESTION: My question is to the Minister for Government Services. What has the Royal Commission into Robodebt revealed about the harm the former government's unlawful Robodebt scheme inflicted upon the most vulnerable Australians?


Yesterday I updated the House on issues raised in Dr.Watt's review into procurements and contracts entered into by Services Australia and the NDIA. A key thread in this reporting was the presence of de facto lobbying firm Synergy 360, owned by friends and donors of the member for Fadden, Mr. David Miller and Mr. John Margerrison.

Synergy 360 was being paid by companies including Indian software giant Infosys and American technology giant Unisys for access to Member for Fardden's office. Leaked emails today in the nine newspapers reveal that the cash for access business model of the Synergy 360 extended beyond the member for Fadden and his office and to the important Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, ACLEI. It received sensitive briefs on Australia's national security. ACLEI at the time was inquiring into the integrity of Australia's seaports and borders.

Leaked emails reveal that Unisys had paid Synergy 360 in order for the member for Fadden to help the company set up a commercial pitch of its border security software called Blindsight. We have an endorsement from the ACLEI Committee. Unisys were hoping to sell this product to the Australian government. Leaked emails reveal that Unisys was set to make millions if they could reach a deal with the Australian government to purchase this product. Furthermore, these emails revealed that Synergy 360 would also receive 10% of the contract value, plus $10,000 per month retainer in anticipation of the pitch to ACLEI. The Member for Fadden was provided by a Unisys executive with information about their product. I quote an email from an Asia Pacific Vice President of Unisys to the American head office.

“I told Stewart I'd get him something tonight, tomorrow at the Joint Committee on the Australian Committee for Law Enforcement. He will be proposing that the committee formally meets with Unisys for a briefing on our work with the US government." Furthermore, the Member met with Synergy 360 and his friends and the chairman of his fundraising group and UNICEF's reps on the Gold Coast at Mr. Morrison's house to help them prepare a run through for the committee. He lunched with them on the 29th as a thank you from Unisys. He then helped arrange meetings with Unisys with the ACLEI meeting, but also with the then or the now leader of the Opposition. And I'm not saying the now Leader of the Opposition was aware of all the backstory.

All these matters go to the core of the what review the need to declare conflicts both real and perceived and. I think in order to assure the Parliament and the Australian public that he's acted with integrity, the Member for Fadden needs to immediately state whether he declared his conflict of interest before suggesting Unisys to make a commercial pitch. And I think the Leader of the Opposition needs to say if he's satisfied with the Member for Fadden's conduct in all of these matters which have dominated the front pages of the media.