Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne responded to industry advice and announced the “Local Industry Capability Plans” (LICP) at a sold out industry lunch in Darwin.
This plan will outline how managing contractors release packages for work on Defence installations.
Industry has been lobbying to alter the way Defence procurement operates, particularly in regional Australia.
The objective is to see that small- to medium-size enterprises around Australia can benefit from Defence work.
Work packages in the past have been far too big for local contractors with the result being that most Defence work in Northern Australia is being carried out by large southern contractors.
There have been calls in recent years for more development in Northern Australia.
It is possible this factor may have been taken into consideration by the federal government when the Defence Department announced the LICP.
The Department’s past practice was particularly detrimental for the town of Katherine three decades ago when Tindal RAAF Base was built.
Contract sizes at the time prevented local enterprises from tendering. Locals who gained work at Tindal were compelled to do so on a subcontract basis.
This left them at the mercy of unscrupulous head contractors. The LICP will be piloted at locations in Darwin, Townsville and Shoalwater Bay in Qld.
Although the expansion of Tindal RAAF Base is by far the largest of the Defence projects either underway or planned for Northern Australia, Tindal will not be included in the LICP.
Katherine certainly missed out badly when the RAAF base was established.
Once again the town of Katherine will miss out on development work at Tindal RAAF Base.
Bruce Francais, Katherine