ERG erg limited

----Smart card victory

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    Smart card victory
    By BRUCE McDOUGALL
    27jul02
    COMMUTERS moved closer to a futuristic mass-marketed smart card when the NSW Government won a major legal battle in the Supreme Court yesterday.

    The revolutionary plastic card will enable up to 1.5 million passengers to travel on trains, buses and ferries without having to buy tickets.

    A legal challenge to the tendering process brought by the unsuccessful US-based consortium Cubic was thrown out by Justice Michael Adams calling the group's behaviour "reprehensible" and "dishonest".

    Cubic sought an injunction to prevent the preferred tenderer – a consortium headed by the Western Australia-based technology group ERG – from entering into a contract with the state for the ticketing system, claiming its proposal was not fairly considered.

    But the judge, awarding costs to the government, had harsh words for the Cubic consortium, telling them: "It is difficult to see how the court would be justified in directing the defendants (the government) to reconsider the plaintiffs' tender when its lack of good faith and positive dishonesty have been so devastatingly exposed."

    Cubic, which has installed smart card technology in major cities around the world and runs State Rail's automatic ticketing system, said it was taking legal advice on its next move.

    But Australian general manager Glenn Maker said the company "rejected any suggestion of impropriety".

    ERG spokesman Shaun Duffy said the injunction preventing it from proceeding in NSW had been lifted.

    "We hope to sign a contract as soon as possible," he said.

    "It has been a long and involved process since we were originally awarded preferred proponent status in August last year and we look forward to implementing a smart card system."

    In the future it is expected people will be able to use the smart card to pay for groceries, tolls, retail goods, online shopping, phone bills and movie and concert tickets as well as transport.

    In his judgment Justice Adams found the Cubic consortium had taken advantage of highly confidential information passed to it improperly during the tender process.

    "Nothing justifies the conclusion that the [government's] decision was affected by any procedural unfairness or inappropriate actions," he said.

    The government claimed Cubic "clandestinely obtained and improperly took advantage of highly sensitive confidential information".

    Justice Adams found development risks associated with the Cubic system were assessed as significantly greater than those presented by ERG
 
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