Tuesday 27 September 2011

Not all Entertainment Centre contracts awarded to locals

$1.2m stays in Far North after local companies win work in latest round of contracts for Cairns Entertainment Precinct

Daniel Strudwick
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
© The Cairns Post

More than $1.2 million of contracts for the next stage of Cairns Entertainment Precinct planning has been awarded to Far Northern companies or firms with partnerships in the region.

Locals tendered for 10 contracts and were awarded eight, including work for structural and mechanical engineers, heritage consultants and hydraulics experts.

But although the council gave added weighting to bids that came from local companies, some unsuccessful Far Northern contractors said the tendering process wasn’t transparent enough.

The entertainment precinct’s project manager, Linda Cardew, said creating jobs for local people was one of the key objectives of the $240 million development."It’s a real goal of the council, and I think we’re doing well," she said. "Tenders are assessed on a wide range of criteria and there is a weighting given to local tenders."

Five per cent of the council’s tender criteria on the recent round of contracts was based on office location, with more points awarded to Cairns-based bids. And Ms Cardew said the weighting could be even higher when construction contracts are awarded because of the ample supply and capability of local builders.

Shaun Hartley of Arup, which successfuly bid for $662,410 of engineering contracts, said local know-how was often needed on projects such as the entertainment precinct. "We’ve got the local knowledge for designing for storm surges and cyclonic winds and the general resilience needed for a tropical climate," Mr Hartley said.

But the North Queensland chairman of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Greg McDonald, was disappointed a quantity surveying contract was awarded to a southern bidder.

His company, Beacon Consulting, was among three local firms shortlisted for the contract but missed out to WT Partnerships.

He said the council’s procurement policy would be more transparent if tenderers knew how much weight was given to each criteria before they made their submissions.

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