Kather­ine ig­nored

NT News - - OPINION -

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

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