Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has demanded preference be given to local Far North Queensland companies for all future Government infrastructure projects. The call comes after the State Government announced a Building Summit will be hosted in the New Year.
Mr Entsch said he expects locals to be the ‘primary’ contractors for government infrastructure projects and he wants government at both State and Federal levels to write into all funding commitments to our region that local contractors be given preference.
“Enough of the rhetoric, we need action now. Our construction companies are folding by the week as they’re being dished the crumbs off the plate. We as a community need to demand at this Building Summit that preference be given to local businesses,” Mr Entsch said.
The Federal Member said he believes that national and multi?national firms have been sucking the money out of the town through the stimulus projects in the past 2 years and this has been a significant contributor to the construction industries woes.
“The problem we have faced during one of the worst downturns in the industry is that southern multi?nationals while employing some local contractors, have been awarded the ‘primary’ contract and therefore are receiving the cream off the top. Our local contractors are being fed the crumbs as subbies on the other hand,
“An electrical company that folded in Cairns recently was awarded work on a subcontractor basis through one of these large southern firms for projects such as Lotus Glen Correctional Centre and the Cairns Base Hospital Car Park. Despite securing this work the business still collapsed,
“The main reason being is that the margins on these jobs for local companies are too small. Many of them are forced to undercut one another to secure the work and in many cases they are losing money on the projects,” he said.
Mr Entsch said if Government truly cared about stimulating the region’s economy, locals would be given priority.
“If Government is going to award stimulus funding to our region, let it truly benefit our region financially and let our companies be given the ‘primary’ contracts for that work. We have very capable firms in this region that can take on these projects with great ease and I urge the State and Federal Government to give local companies the appropriate preferential treatment,” Mr Entsch said.
Warren Entsch also called on the Local Governments in the region to fast track town planning for projects as the long winded timeframes are crippling businesses.
“The turnaround times on development approvals is quite frankly ridiculous. Local water park, Adventure Waters is just one example where the owner was forced to wait 3 years for an approval despite following all the appropriate processes. This cost the local businessman over one million dollars. This kind of procrastination and red tape has to be fixed in earnest,” he said.