BLUE Sky founder and Queensland chief entrepreneur Mark Sowerby has thrown his support behind the State Government’s “Buy Queensland” procurement policy, and said it was a strong win for local business.
Mr Sowerby, who has long rallied for “sales not subsidies” when it comes to procurement processes, said he was pleased the Government had listened.
“I’m really impressed that this has been done; it’s a real competitive advantage for Queensland and I’m excited,” he said.
“When we look back on this policy in a few years’ time, I think we will see that it has been a really good thing for Queensland, particularly in the regions.
“For start-ups and scale-ups it’s not necessarily about the total dollar of a contract; $20,000 could be the little seed which sows the beginning of an important business that no one saw coming.”
The policy, revealed exclusively in The Courier-Mail on Saturday, would give local suppliers a weighting of up to 30 per cent on any tender lodged for a significant procurement. It would also require at least one local or regional supplier, and one other Queensland business, to be invited to quote or tender for every procurement opportunity offered.
The Opposition has criticised the move, and an LNP spokesperson said: “You can’t recommit Queensland to being an open economy with trade partners and then create a policy which ignores free trade deals.”
Tranzblast director Fabian Stangherlin said he supported the plan, as long as it meant manufacturing was done locally and not imported.
Mr Stangherlin, whose Carole Park company provides corrosion protection and sandblasting of major structures such as Suncorp Stadium and Brisbane Airport, said imported steel components had damaged the fabrication sector. “I would support a policy that genuinely supported local companies and steel fabricators,” Mr Stangherlin said.
“The problem occur when companies import prefabricated components into the country.”
River City Labs chief executive Peta Ellis backed the proposal, and said it gave small businesses that may have previously avoided tendering for government contracts an opportunity to do so.
“Anything that’s going to provide more opportunity for Queensland businesses to be considered (for contracts) is a positive.”
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland has also welcomed the policy.
General manager of advocacy Kate Whittle said small business had previously said they struggled to compete for government tenders against bigger companies or international corporation,.
“CCIQ is delighted the government has listened to the calls of small business in Queensland to ensure they have the best chance at providing their world class products and services to government, whose purchasing power should always put Queensland’s small business employers at the forefront of their dealings,” she said.
“The next steps will be to ensure that small business, particularly in regional Queensland, can take full advantage of opportunities to do business with government.”
A “locals first” policy regarding government procurement was one of the action points which emerged earlier this year from The Courier-Mail’s #GoQld campaign.
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