Lo­cal con­trac­tors ‘ dud­ded’ on $ 200m con­tract

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

LO­CAL con­trac­tors are los­ing out on Townsville’s $ 200 mil­lion Ring Rd pro­ject, earn­ing less than half the amount paid to the prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor.

The dis­crep­ancy has an­gered Mayor Jenny Hill and Herbert MP Ewen Jones, who have called for con­trac­tors to get a bet­ter deal.

LO­CAL con­trac­tors are earn­ing less than half that be­ing paid to the prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor for work on the Townsville Ring Road, af­ter the con­tract has been passed through a num­ber of “mid­dle men”.

It’s un­der­stood prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor Seymour Whyte is pay­ing Bris­bane- based Aus­tralian Pre­mium Haulage nearly $ 3 per tonne in haulage rates for the pro­ject, with work sub­con­tracted to lo­cal busi­nesses for as lit­tle as $ 1.80 per tonne.

With lo­cal con­trac­tors barely mak­ing a profit on the $ 200 mil­lion pro­ject, Mayor Jenny Hill and Herbert MP Ewen Jones have called for gov­ern­ments to give lo­cal com­pa­nies a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to ten­der for work in the first in­stance.

A lo­cal haulage op­er­a­tor, who asked not to be named, said Townsville con­trac­tors were be­ing passed over dur­ing the ten­der process only to end up do­ing the work for less.

“Lo­cal guys are go­ing back­wards be­cause of the un­nec­es­sary mid­dle man tak­ing his cut,” he said.

“We have many lo­cal com­pa­nies who have the equip- ment and skills to do the job yet they keep giv­ing work to out- of- town busi­nesses who then have to take their cut.

“We have had to head out of town to look for work when there are ma­jor projects hap- pen­ing on our doorstep sim­ply be­cause we can’t cover our run­ning costs with the rate they are of­fer­ing.”

The Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads and Seymour Whyte re­fused to com­ment on haulage rates paid to con­trac­tors, say­ing it was com­mer­cial- in- con­fi­dence.

A depart­ment spokesman said pro­cure­ment com­plied with the Queens­land Char­ter for Lo­cal Con­tent guide­lines.

“More than 80 per cent of Seymour Whyte’s labour, plant, sub­con­trac­tors and ma­te­ri­als on the Townsville Ring Road, sec­tion four, have been sourced from the Townsville area,” the spokesman said.

Cr Hill said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment needed to ad­dress the is­sue through its ten­der­ing pol­icy. “We all un­der­stand the need for com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing but the ben­e­fits for the lo­cal com­mu­nity should also be weighted as part of this process,” she said.

“The feed­back I’m get­ting from lo­cal busi­nesses would in­di­cate many of them feel shut out from these con­tracts.”

Mr Jones said overly com­pli­cated ten­der doc­u­ments meant many con­trac­tors were shut out. “The win­ner of the ten­der doesn’t get their hands dirty any more, and the sub­con­trac­tor car­ries all the debt and all the risk,” he said.

Lo­cal guys are go­ing back­wards be­cause of the un­nec­es­sary mid­dle man TOWNSVILLE HAULAGE OP­ER­A­TOR

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