Local builders demand Cairns Entertainment Precinct jobs
THE construction industry is imploring Cairns Regional Council to award the tender to build the $155 million entertainment precinct to local contractors.
Urban Development Institute of Australia Cairns branch president Gerard Obersky said the four companies with local branches and staff were more than capable of performing the job.
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A survey of Far Northern contractors has revealed most local building firms believe they could take on the major construction tender and successfully deliver the project. But the survey, compiled by Beacon Consulting, also found 67 per cent of the construction companies had little faith the council would award the work to a locally based contractor.
"In our opinion there are at least four established and locally based construction companies who are more than capable of delivering this $150 million-plus project," Beacon director Greg McDonald said. He named Hansen Yuncken, Matrix, Laing O’Rourke and Hutchinson Builders as contenders for the contract. Hansen Yuncken built the $200 million Cairns airport domestic terminal redevelopment, while Laing O’Rourke built the Government’s $80 million William McCormack Place, Stage 2 project and the $43 million hospital carpark and cancer centre.
Matrix built the award-winning $31 million Coconut Grove complex at Port Douglas and Hutchinson Builders constructed the $11.2 million cruise ship terminal and the first stage of the $100 million Catholic aged care centre at Westcourt. Entertainment precinct project manager Linda Cardew said work had not yet begun on drafting tender documents or calling for expressions of interest.
She said the council would call for expressions of interest in due course and weighting would be given to locally based firms or other companies with partners in the region. "The expressions of interest is an opportunity for anyone who might be interested in tendering to throw their hat into the ring," Ms Cardew said. "I want to see, through this project, business in Cairns." "And I believe that is what has been happening so far in this project."
Mr McDonald said there was no need to consider tier 1 multi-national construction companies for the work. "The local construction economy and broader economy in general needs this project to stay local. We don’t see any real reasons why it should not,’’ he said. "We would implore (the council) to consider the current status of the construction economy in Cairns and the need for this project to be procured locally to support our local construction industry.
Meanwhile, a construction consultant says local builders could have a better chance against bigger competitors if they put their hard hats together and bid for entertainment precinct contracts as a joint force, Cambell Balderson says Cairns Regional Council should seriously consider bids from local contractors, even mid-tier builders who have partnered with other small firms in the region.
He wants the council to open talks with Cairns builders to discover if an expression of interest from a local joint venture would stack up against tenders from top-tier construction firms. He said the tenders from big companies often only paid lip service to local employment, and most of the profits ended up in head offices in other cities. "Those companies will surely provide an excellent submission, but in reality, the flow-on effect to the local economy is negligible except for an initial improvement in statistics to say that local trades are being used on the job," Mr Balderson said. "The challenge for small companies will be demonstrating that they’re as safe a bet as the major ones." Construction tenders have not yet been called for the project, but expressions of interest are likely to be taken soon.
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