Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Ex-CDA comments, suggestions, criticisms #top

QTAB : Larry Holswade’s Press Statement

I’m not sure who Larry Holswade’s secretary was (way out of my reach), but she must have earned a small bonus in early April …

“CDC Loses Second TAB”

The following statement was issued by Mr. L. H. Holswade, managing director of Control Data Australia Pty. Ltd on Wednesday, April 12.

“Control Data Australia Pty Ltd is distressed to report that the Queensland Totalizator Administration Board (QTAB) has given termination notice of their agreement with Control Data to implement the generalised wagering system (GWS)”.

“Since GWS is a highly advanced and sophisticated computerised system, there have been understandable technical delays of which QTAB was well aware. However, GWS will clearly provide the public with the best and most reliable service of any system now available or on the horizon”.

“Control Data has recently made significant technical breakthroughs and sees nothing that will hinder successful completion of the project”.

“GWS was conceived and developed in Australia  It has provided over 150 jobs locally in development, manufacturing and support services”.

‘We have no doubt that GWS can be delivered and are willing to make every effort to see GWS brought to fruition”.

The Australian 18 April, 1978

Ed : Lotsa’ Luck, Larry!

Coming the following Tuesday after the CRISP cancellation, The Australian’s computer editor Frank Linton-Simpkins alerted readers to an earlier report in The Oz that may well have been missed by computer buffs,

After stating the bleedin’ obvious along the lines of “April has not been Control Data Australia’s best month …” [1] he went on add

“… on the question raised in State Parliament suggesting the original technical recommendation for QTAB was for FACOM and not CDA, we quote an earlier article by The Australian’s Elizabeth Johnson which appeared on Thursday, 13 April”.

“There were suggestions yesterday of another computer scandal involving FACOM and government contracts - this one in the Queensland Parliament.

“The Treasurer and Racing Minister Mr Knox withheld until next week a reply to a question from the Opposition Leader, Mr. Burns concerning a $4.2 million contract awarded to Control Data of Australia to install TAB equipment. The TAB this week cancelled the contract, claiming that it had cost $3.5 million.

“Mr Burns asked Mr Knox whether the TAB had ignored the unanimous recommendation of a panel of experts to award the contract to Facom and discard the Control Data entry. [1]

Mr Knox replied he could not answer the question immediately as he had not been Racing Minister at the time. He will reply today in State Parliament”.

The report went on for a few more paragraphs describing a verbal attack Burns’ credibility made by Knox outside of Parliament - “incredible”, “scandalous”, etc., ending with probably a valid point that Knox should have made himself aware of the facts before making the announcement.  Elizabeth Johnson continued :-

“With the Queensland Parliament sitting for only 10% of the year, for the Opposition Leader to spend this much time on a question only stresses its importance”.

“If the question is with substance, then it appears FACOM has not only had a bad run this year with Federal contract but also in the past with state governments.  FACOM has one of the largest TAB-type systems in the world in Japan”.

Ed : To bring this later issue into context, the QTAB controversy came just a few weeks after a similar uproar when IBM were awarded a huge contract with the Bureau of Statistics despite FACOM winning the technical recommendation. It was revealed that at one point, Alan G. Moyes, the Managing Director of IBM (Australia) had written personally to the Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser who denied having any input in the decision-making process,.

It also came at the height of the CDA Press Statement : Queensland TAB/GWS era and just about every second issue of The Australian had a leading article on clashes between the Federal Government and Queensland, particularly over the state’s bid to reclaim Aboriginal land reserves granted by Canberra.

[1] By some margin not “Control Data’s best month” - the morning of the CRISP cancellation, I had been at 598 to get final acceptance of a Requirements Analysis and Technical Specification for a large Airlines Reservation system that the the Australian Union of Students Travel Agency proposed running on Cybernet at a monthly cost of something over $2,000.  I’d made a provisional second appointment with Bill Beath later that week to discuss technical aspects with a couple of programmers - Bill rang on the Thursday morning revealing AUS Travel had gone down the gurgler owing many tens of thousands of dollars to creditors - I believe CDA’s “contribution” was somewhat over $30,000.  Lyle Bowden before he returned to Perth and I had worked around three months on the project and fortunately both AUS and CDA had signed off of the specification, which meant I got paid; there were three or four international airlines owed heaps, not sure whether CDA collected anything out of the wreckage.

You may also like to catch up with …  :

CRISP : The Final Hurdle

CDA Press Statement : Queensland TAB/GWS

CRISP : Mark II?

GWS : (With Tongue Planted Firmly In Cheek)