More than 70 business representatives heard from the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation about the State Government’s push for local content at a CCI Sundowner last week.

The Jobs Bill, which passed through the Legislative Council on December 7, was a key election commitment from the Labor Government to support local businesses to tender for government contracts.

Executive Director, Resources Development and Defence, John O’Hare told the crowd that most other states and territories had policies in place and that the WA Government had sought advice from Victoria, which implemented its plan in 2001.

“They have shared their experience on what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

“Most other states and territories have policies and we have been playing catch up – but the benefit is we can see what has worked and what hasn’t.”

O’Hare said the Auditor General’s report released in December – Local Content in Government Procurement –  was ‘not pleasant reading’.

The report was critical of agencies because they were unable to demonstrate effectiveness of the government’s buy local policy.

Auditor General Colin Murphy said there was little monitoring of and no effective consequences for companies failing to meet their local content tender commitments.

Murphy made several recommendations, which are in part being addressed by the WA Jobs Bill 2017, which will require development of the WA Industry Participation Strategy.

Under the strategy, each tenderer will be required to submit a participation plan for supplies that meet the WAIPS criteria, currently under development.  

O’Hare says the department had been consulting widely with business and industry, with the majority of consultation positive, although a ‘perceived increase in red tape and costs’ had been raised as an issue.

“We are acutely aware the impact this has on small business and we are acutely aware of the responsibility not to increase costs but the Government is also very clear … we have to gather data and the only way to do that is to measure it and we have to gather information,” he said.

O’Hare said one of the key messages from Victoria had been that the government failed to communicate the changes, which created a lot of upheaval for industry.

He said a transition period, website and information portal would be established to help industry address the changes.

O’Hare thanked outgoing CCI chief executive Deidre Willmott for tireless support over the last four years as ‘an absolute champion at pushing industry participation and local content’.

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