Locals miss out on big contract
DEVELOPER Bill Moorhead has slammed Bundaberg Regional Council for awarding a lucrative contract to a Brisbane-based firm when a local company could have carried out the work.
The contract, for consultancy services for drawing up a new planning scheme for the Bundaberg region, was worth about $700,000.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the council decided to award the contract to Brisbane firm Humphreys Reynolds Perkins, the tenderer recommended by council officers.
The officers also told the council there was very little to separate the three main tenderers.
Council planning and development chairman Ross Sommerfeld argued strongly the contract should go to local firm Insite Strategies, but was voted down.
Cr Sommerfeld said in a case where the decision was split by a hair's breadth, the contract should go to a local firm.
Mr Moorhead, speaking as a committee member of the Urban Development Institute of Australia Bundaberg branch, said the council's decision was “just outrageous”.
“This is the sort of stuff that costs local jobs,” he said.
“The amount of the contract would have paid for 10 local engineers for 12 months.”
Mr Moorhead said if the choice was close, a local firm should get the job.
“Here in Bundaberg we've got a very competent firm that can do the job and they appoint someone from out of town,” he said.
“Whenever we can give a contract to a local, we should.”
Mr Moorhead emphasised he had no commercial connection to any of the firms involved.
Insite Strategies director David Newby said he was disappointed at the decision.
“I think the council needs to rethink what weighting they give to local tenders,” he said.
“They should be seeing a significant benefit in having local skills developed.”
Cr Greg Barnes, who argued successfully against Cr Sommerfeld at the council meeting, said while he would prefer work to go to a local firm, the council had a strict assessment program.
“For the council to come in at the last moment and overturn that would be diverting away from the proper procedures, and could introduce an element of suspicion,” he said.