Wednesday, 8 July 2020
Mayoral candidates on how they would ‘buy local first’

More now than ever, the local economy is going to need to be stimulated and buying local has been a long fought campaign.

In past decades, many rural and regional Councils, held to a policy of ‘buy local first’. Some allowed a 3%, others allowed a 5% margin for local business tenders (that is, if the local business or operator’s tender was within 3% or 5% of the lowest quote then preference was given to the local tender). 

For the purposes of this question, we define ‘local’ as a business, operator or professional whose operations have a physical presence within the Scenic Rim local authority’s boundaries.

The question to the candidates for mayor is: Would you consider introducing a ‘Buy Local First’ policy in all aspects of Council operations?

Greg Christensen:

Under my leadership, Council has already implemented a buy local program of initiatives. 

This includes having a % preference allowance for local suppliers being applied for evaluating offers for goods and services. 

Additionally, Council has proactively approached local suppliers to take over supply from other sources with success, maintaining equivalent pricing, but now having local suppliers. 

Another example has all light vehicle purchases now preferenced for local suppliers (previously outside region). 

These initiatives have seen a strong increase of spend with local suppliers, now worth millions of dollars, with more to follow as additional categories are reviewed. 

When sourcing external contractors and consultant services, Council sources locally whenever possible – eg top up or specialty earthmoving, engineering for flood recovery works. Some services are niche specialties, only needed for short periods, and do not exist within region – eg pile driving for bridge footings. It would be bad value for ratepayers to replicate all services internally. 

The driving focus is to retain expenditure within the local economy to improve local business resilience, and job growth and security.

John Brent:

My mayoral campaign has redirected its focus to promoting local purchase and prompt payment with urgency.

We need to understand our people and work with them in real time.

There is history with policy in this area (Hilmers reform comes to mind) but it’s about today and it’s about the future.

Operating preferentially with local businesses whilst respecting the need for good value for money.  Locals know local businesses and providing good service. Chambers continue to suggest buying local, let’s respect their strong efforts just as we appreciate my iniative to get Eat Local Week happening successfully.

With my renewed and experienced leadership, a life time local bloke with experience in business, I understand these issues thoroughly - more than many.

I know the Scenic Rim. I know business. I know community. I will deliver.

Tom Sharp:

I want to arrest the export of rate money from the region by developing a local buying program, eliminating, where possible, an external work force, and endless consultancy contracts. 

It is time to disclose where and how your money is spent by division in hard dollars not slick accounting methodology that supports a top-heavy administration.

Your elected representatives will be part of determining how your money will be spent, right down to the last cent. As they will be accountable to you, in how your money is spent.

With regards to programs such as the “bridge program” exporting millions of dollars via out side tendering. I ask the question if we have more than 90 bridges to replace, why would we not train and employ our own bridge building crews (core council business) and use the latest technology ie cement bridges versus wooden bridges. This would provide employment, skills and retain money in our region.

Chris Summers:

The answer is quite simply a resounding yes.

I would introduce a 5 percent policy as we need to strengthen our footprint in the local area and give confidence to local providers of goods and services that we value their business and will, at every opportunity, seek to buy local.

This would also mean that our tendering processes will need to be reviewed to ensure that putting goods and services out to tender is not an onerous process and we do not turn local business off because of a mountain of red tape they would need to navigate to be a competitive tenderer.

For example, local business is encouraged to register on the Local Government Tender Box to receive information on procurement tenders of $200,000 or more.

Or, local suppliers should register their business on the VendorPanel Marketplace that sources quotations from suppliers where the quote value is less than $200,000.

This is an open market online resource that is free to suppliers to receive notifications and be able to submit quotes for services or goods.

Notwithstanding these two portals, I would be looking to introduce a 5% policy to ensure that local suppliers are competitive.