Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey
TAB cancels CRISP
(The Age, Tuesday, 4 April, 1978, page 1)
"The Victorian TAB has cancelled its $26 million CRISP computer project”.
"The announcement yesterday ended months of speculation on the future of CRISP which was planned to revolutionalize the TAB’s betting operations.
"The TAB claimed Control Data Australia Pty. Ltd. failed to live up to the contract obligations regarding CRISP. TAB Chairman Mr. Hilton Nicholas said it was now the Board’s intentions to obtain an alternative computer system as soon as possible.
"The cancellation of CRISP means the TAB already-
"It will take that long for any new system to be introduced even if one was available immediately" (more by Tony Bourke, page 34).
(ED : Page 34 was the back page and the leading Sports Age article, Tony Bourke their senior racing writer)
TAB’S NO to CRISP $26 Million (by Tony Bourke)
(The Age, Tuesday, 4 April, 1978, page 34)
"The Victorian TAB has cancelled its $26 million CRISP computer project.
"The announcement yesterday ended months of speculation on the future of CRISP which was supposed to revolutionalise the TAB’s betting operations.
"In a brief statement at 4.00 p.m. yesterday, TAB Chairman Mr. Hilton Nicholas announced that in the Board’s view, Control Data had failed to fulfil its obligations in accordance with the contract.
"Mr Nicholas said it was the Board’s intention to seek an alternative computer system as soon as possible.
"The TAB statement added that acting on legal advice, no further details would be released at the present time.
"It is believed that the TAB has paid about $8 million to Control Data under the written contract for the CRISP project. What percentage of these payments, if any, is recoverable may be subject to legal action.
"Racing administrators are believed to be happy with the Board's decision, although concerned about the money already spent and the time wasted on the CRISP project. Moonee Valley Chief Executive Ian McEwan said he believed that the future profitability of the racing industry was at stake.
"A spokesman for Control Data Australia Pty Ltd said last night that the company had no comment to make the cancellation of the CRISP project.
"Control Data has supplied the Victorian TAB with computer systems since automated betting came in 1967. The first system known as CARBINE was superseded by the present RIMFIRE system in April, 1971.
"In May, 1974, the TAB announced the introduction of CRISP to eventually replace RIMFIRE.
"The CRISP system was named after the great steeplechaser owned by the TAB's first Chairman, Sir Chester Manifold. The initials also stand for Comprehensive Racing Investment System for the Public.
"When it was announced at a cost "upward" of $8 million, CRISP was to be introduced progressively from 1976 with the state fully equipped with the new equipment by 1980.
"In 1976, the starting date for CRISP was put back to May, 1977 and then to the spring of 1977.
"Officials said it was previously thought the RIMFIRE system would be able to handle most TAB needs in the foreseeable future. The TAB said at the time "however the immense advances made in computer technology and the huge growth of the TAB has made essential the introduction of a more sophisticated system".
"The CRISP system was to nearly double the capacity of the telephone betting operation which even then was over-
"The Victorian TAB was acknowledged as the leader in computerized betting in Australia, if not the world, but now almost every other state has a more sophisticated off-
TIME FOR ENQUIRY INTO THE TAB (Tony Bourke)
"The State Government should order an inquiry into the Victorian TAB.
"For too long, the Government has enjoyed reaping the benefit from the giant money-
"The cancellation of the CRISP project is the latest example of mismanagement by what is a semi-
"When it was announced in 1974, CRISP was going to cost “upwards” of $8 million, but the latest estimate came to $26 million, an increase of over 300 per cent in less than four years.
"The starting date, originally September, 1976 was continually put back, the latest to the spring of 1977, but the system was found to be unworkable.
"In the meantime, the TAB spent $11 million in building improvements to house the new computer system and the expanded telephone betting facilities. The new building, originally to cost $6 million was opposed by the race clubs which the Government approved to set up the TAB.
"The Government should be asking the TAB on behalf of the racing industry and the public in general why outside tenders were not called for when it became obvious that the previous RIMFIRE system, also supplied by Control Data couldn’t fulfil the TAB’s needs.
"And was an outside consultant brought in to evaluate the situation when it became obvious that CRISP also had its problems?
"The racing industry was relieved when the Board decided to cancel CRISP even though it remains the TAB will be saddled with the presently outmoded system for at least another two years.
"At least it meant that a faulty, money-
Following Tony Bourke's pieces, another unaccredited paragraph suggested CRISP "was in doubt some two years earlier".
The following day, the Minister for Youth, Sports and Recreation, Mr Brian Dixon suggested that he expected that the TAB to recover most of the $8.6 million paid to Control Data "although I am unable to elaborate for legal reasons on the reasons for the cancellation".
"After being given every opportunity to comply with the original specification, including extensions of time, the Board's view was that Control Data Australia had failed to fulfil its obligations in accordance with the contract".
He went on to explain that tenders had not been invited because of a joint recommendation by Control Data and the TAB based on the use of Control Data equipment and the Government would not initiate an inquiry until it received and considered a separate report already being prepared by the racing industry in general, expected at the end of the month.
The reaction of the computer industry to the cancellation is difficult to assess from the material publicly available (microfilm of The Australian is now held off-
The Political Fallout
The political ramifications were much the predictable push-
Tresize claimed Dixon was trying to set-
Dixon denied the accusation, claiming he accepted Ministerial responsibility and had provided the information on the General Manager's salary and superannuation "to protect Mr. Rutter's position as there was a malicious rumour in this town that Mr Rutter would receive $1 million when he retired".
Dixon confirmed the TAB Board's intention to pursue the recovery of the $8.6 million paid to Control Data Australia and that representatives from the parent company had flown to Australia for talks with the TAB on the cancellation of the project. He also caused further uproar when the following day he tabled a letter from the Attorney General saying that the litigation was viable and therefore none of the contractual details should be released.
He also accused the Opposition of wanting "to put abroad a furphy " that Control Data did not have sufficient reserves to pay back the $8.6 million – "Control Data Australia was guaranteed by its American parent company which had reserves of $1300 million".
Dixon survived the political fall-
He lost the seat in 1982 when the Liberals were defeated after 27 years in power and shortly afterwards became one of the early General Managers of the Sydney Swans. Tresize took over the Youth, Sport and Recreation portfolio and held it under John Cain and Joan Kirner until Labor was overthrown by B in 1992.
On The Field
As well as political opponents, Dixon and Tresize had previously been rivals for several years on the footy field – Dixon a champion wingman over 252 games between 1954 and 1968 with Melbourne, Tresize 185 games as a rover and later back pocket between 1949 and 1959 with Geelong.
Was there ever a payout by CDC following the cancellation?
I know John O’Neil and Hilton Nicholas flew to Minneapolis for high-
I was told a couple of years later -
It was also revealed in Parliament after the cancellation that VicTAB had been unable to call in outside consultants to assess the ongoing viability of CRISP because “the terms of contract prevented access to the documentation as the documents were copyright to the computer company”.
This, however, is in contrast to a statement two days after the cancellation that revealed an unnamed consultant had been hired to investigate a new design which the TAB claimed would be ready within twelve months -
There was certainly an action launched by VicTAB for the recovery of $1 million, plus unspecified damages; CDC-
Again, whether money ever changed hands or the legal profession as usual simply lined their pockets remains unknown, but what is documented is that VicTAB retained the terminal equipment (probably with little option given the time taken in developing the interfaces) and CD retained the under-
The acceptance of the terminals by VicTab was in fact a major plus for Control Data -
But the sobering counter-
Maybe someone up there knows, but I’m not holding my breath on any further update!
Perhaps it may also help to clarify some of the figures that were being bandied about, both by reporters and politicians -
The question “without notice” on the occupancy of the new building came from Bruce Skeggs, the Liberal member for Ivanhoe -
It was, in fact, none of the Parliament’s business!
The TAB consisted of an independent Board elected by the various racing bodies and any losses that make have been incurred over the CRISP cancellation WERE NOT public monies, they were deficits incurred by the racing industry. Skeggs also pointed out that despite the non-
So far, so good! Now check out … :
CRISP : A Fatal Fall At The Last
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|Crisp - The Champion|
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|NZ TAB : late 70s|
|VicTAB : Larry Holswade|
|QTAB : Larry Holswade|
|CRISP : Mark II?|
|CRISP - The Nobbling|