Federal Politics

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Senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan angry at 'crock' of a decision on parliamentary dining ware

They call it a crock; others may call it a stunt. But senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon insist their unsuccessful bid to have Australian-made plates and cups used in the dining room at Parliament House is a potent symbol of the lack of government support for Australian manufacturing.

After discovering last year that the parliamentary crockery was made in the United Arab Emirates, the senators spent almost $11,000 of their own money to replace it with a 750-piece Australian-made set.

But, six months later, their offer has still not been taken up and the crockery is gathering dust.

''It's just ridiculous,'' independent Senator Xenophon said.

''It doesn't make sense that you can't give away high-quality Australian-made products. It's embarrassing – no wonder Australian manufacturing is in strife when the Australian Parliament won't accept crockery that is given to them free of charge.


''This is symbolic of how successive governments have had their heads in the sand about the future for Australian manufacturing.''

Democratic Labor Party Senator Madigan said: "When Tony Abbott was opposition leader he congratulated Nick and I on our campaign to promote Australian producers and suppliers.

''He said the Coalition believed that the Commonwealth should prioritise Australian-made goods, provided there is value for taxpayer money.

''This is more than $10,000 worth of Australian-made crockery being given to the Parliament House dining room free of charge. What better value for money is there than that?''

Senators Madigan and Xenophon have instigated a Senate inquiry, due to start shortly, into how the federal government can support Australian manufacturing through procurement processes.

They hope an appearance at Parliament House on Monday with Victorian tableware maker Robert Gordon, whose company made the crockery, will ramp up the pressure on the Parliament to accept the gift.

The senators threatened to dump the 750-piece set outside Mr Abbott's office on Thursday if the crockery isn't accepted.

Comment has been sought from the Prime Minister, and the Department of Parliamentary Services, which is responsible for deciding on crockery in the dining room.

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