A line has been drawn in the sand by civil contractors, associated service providers and the finance industry in the far north.
They are banding together at the ‘Regional Solutions for Regional Development’ conference in April to further advance their claims for equitable change in the regions.
The conference is being held by the North Queensland Civil Construction Association which was formed to lobby for greater recognition of locally based capacity and capability in undertaking state projects.
The civil contracting business underlies all infrastructure development and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to local economies throughout the state’s regions.
Regional suppliers have been overlooked in favour of southern contractors for too long, says NQCCA president Phil Cassell.
“I don’t blame politicians this time,” Mr Cassell said. “They come and go. The public service is forever and the bureaucrats are in our sights.
“Their favoured position to this point has been tier one and two contractors and others invariably based in the south.
“This is not only their ignorance of local capacity, it is a failure to understand how much those contracts contribute to broader local economic growth. It also contradicts the Qld State Government Procurement Policy 2018.
“We called them to account on a Peninsula Development Road contract worth $250 million where no local suppliers where asked to submit tenders. We called for a review of the open tender process, which led to local regional suppliers winning all five tenders.”
The aim of the conference was to advance advocacy, build capacity, educate members and advance safe workplaces, Mr Cassell said.
“The conference will outline major project funding for the coming 12 months as well as emerging infrastructure work in (NDRRA) cyclone rebuilding,” he said.
“A report by Cummings Economics on the sectors’ contribution to the regional economy is scheduled to be launched. It shows the civil construction dollar is too big to ignore.
“We’ll also be drilling down to basics like tender-hacks, debt recovery, finance options and corporate structures. It all goes to a healthy industry.”
The conference will be held at the Jones Park Rugby League clubhouse in Cairns, Saturday 6 April. Free to members, $25 for others. Lunch is supplied.