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IRAQ: Aussie Companies Snare $1.9 Billion in Contracts

Austrade is refusing to release the identity of all Australian companies with reconstruction work, claiming many want details kept secret for security reasons. But last year, the Federal Government was more willing to reveal the identities of the companies.

by Richard BakerThe Age
December 10th, 2005

ABOUT 20 Australian companies have won contracts worth $1.9 billion to help rebuild Iraq.

Despite security concerns and US domination of the process, Patrick Corporation, ANZ Bank and Woodside Petroleum have undertaken projects in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in 2003.

Austrade is refusing to release the identity of all Australian companies with reconstruction work, claiming many want details kept secret for security reasons. But last year, the Federal Government was more willing to reveal the identities of the companies.

In a speech, Trade Minister Mark Vaile named eight of them.

Engineering firm Worley Group has the most lucrative contract.

Worley is in partnership with US company Parsons in a contract worth up to $1 billion to rebuild oil infrastructure in northern Iraq.

Most Australian companies are getting work by winning subcontracts from giant US corporations that have been awarded the bulk of reconstruction projects. This has been paid for by $US18.4 billion ($A24.5 billion) from the US Government.

Not all Australian companies have had positive experiences in Iraq. Queensland caterer Morris Corporation had a $100 million contract to supply food to the US military and even supplied a Thanksgiving meal for US President George Bush when he made a surprise visit to Iraq in 2003.

But Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which awarded the subcontract to Morris, took the work away, claiming Morris had not met its obligations.

A messy legal battle followed and allegations were made that a Halliburton employee demanded $3 million in kickbacks from Morris.

Wheat exporter AWB, whose most recent contract with Iraq was worth more than $350 million, has also become embroiled in controversy after it was found to have paid $300 million in kickbacks to Saddam's regime through the United Nation's oil-for-food program.

Australia exported $383 million in goods to Iraq last financial year, including grains, cheese, meat, passenger vehicles and communications systems, with 37 Australian companies achieving export deals.

Austrade is co-ordinating an Australian stand at the Rebuild Iraq 2006 trade exhibition in Amman, Jordan, in April. Many Australian companies are expected to attend.

AUSTRALIAN FIRMS WITH POSTWAR IRAQ WORK


WORLEY GROUP: $1 billion contract to rebuild oil infrastructure.

AWB LTD: $350 million in United Nations oil-for-food program contracts to supply wheat. Is being investigated over claims it paid $300 million in kickbacks.

SAGRIC INTERNATIONAL: $155 million to work with the CSIRO in a US-led consortium to rebuild Iraq's agricultural sector.

BARRETT COMMUNICATIONS: $7 million to provide communications services.

SMEC: $5 million to repair power substations.

ANZ BANK: Contract value unknown. Part of an international consortium to manage the Trade Bank of Iraq.

MULTIMEDIA: $5 million contract to provide satellite-based internet and communications services.

GRM INTERNATIONAL: Contract value unknown. Working on governance and capacity-building in partnership with US consultants Bearing Point, which is under investigation for fraud in the US.

PATRICK CORPORATION: Contract value unknown. Won a subcontract to assess Baghdad International Airport.

OPTIMAL SOLUTION SERVICES: Sydney security firm providing security services in Iraq.

MORRIS CORPORATION: Had a $100 million subcontract to supply catering services to US Army taken off it by US company Halliburton.

WOODSIDE PETROLEUM: $2.5 million exploration contract with the Iraq Oil Ministry.

MITSUBISHI AUSTRALIA: Providing cars to Iraq police.

SEABIRD AVIATION: Supplying 100 Seeker SB7L-360 surveillance aircraft to Iraqi air force.





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