Abbott Government must fix “mistake” that sent army boots contract offshore

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has admitted that the Abbott Government mistakenly awarded a contract to make boots for the Australian Defence Force to an Indonesian-based manufacturer.

In July Defence Minister David Johnston promised to investigate why the Adelaide firm Rossi Boots had been overlooked for contracts worth up to $15 million to make 100,000 pairs of boots.

In written answers to Labor’s parliamentary questions, however, Senator Johnston later said there would be no opportunity for companies that manufacture in Australia to deliver any part of the tender.

The successful tenderer was Amare Safety, which will obtain Indonesian-made boots through the Australian firm Steele Blue.

But in answering a question about Government procurement at the National Press Club today, Mr Macfarlane said:

“There’s no rules that need to be changed … I know there’s been mishaps … where the decision didn’t go to the minister – like the army boots.”

“As the Minister has noted, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules do not necessarily require contracts to be awarded to the tenderer with the lowest price,” Shadow Innovation and Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr said.

 “What matters is getting the best value for money over the longer term. That includes taking into account the economic and social impact of awarding the contract to an offshore, rather than a local, tenderer.

 “The Minister now appears to have conceded that a mistake was made in awarding the army boots contract to a firm that will manufacture them in Indonesia.

 “The Abbott Government owes the unsuccessful Australian tenderer and its employees an explanation of that mistake.

 “And it needs to explain how that mistake will be rectified.”

 In Opposition, Senator Johnston said:

"Australians expect that when something can be designed and manufactured locally at a competitive or cheaper rate then it should go to an Australian company every time."


Our experience so far of the Abbott Government is that their pronouncements in Opposition don’t hold to be true in Government.

Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence, David Feeney, said:  “The Government has refused to rule out buying Japanese submarines for Australia’s Future Submarine fleet and has excluded Australian companies from building two new naval supply ships,”

“The Labor Party supports Australian industry and will work to hold the Government to account on this issue.”

“Only Labor will stand up for Australian industry unlike the Abbott Government who seem determined to send Australian manufacturing, and Australian jobs offshore.”


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