Albany businesses are missing out on millions of dollars worth of State Government contracts, making a mockery of Royalties for Regions and the State’s buy local policy.
Government departments are accused of centralising spending and overlooking tenders from local companies.
Albany-based construction company Wauters Enterprises was overlooked for at least three major Royalties for Regions-funded construction projects in the past two years, despite competitive tenders.
It missed out on winning contracts to carry out more than $5 million in upgrades to Denmark High School, almost $2 million in works to Katanning Senior High School, and the more than $6 million construction of the UWA Albany Science Centre.
Perth-based companies BGC and EMCO won the tenders.
Wauters chief executive Brett Joynes said awarding the contracts to Perth companies made “a mockery” of Royalties for Regions and meant local contractors also missed out on work.
“The majority of regional funds end up diverted back to Perth … those companies do not invest long term in Albany, or its people,” he said.
Mr Joynes believes crucial changes need to be made to stop Royalties for Regions expenditure being driven back to Perth.
The Albany Advertiser understands several Albany car dealerships have also lost government fleet vehicle contracts to Perth.
Best Office Systems owner Phil Shilcock said his business was suffering due to government departments following a centralised buying model.
“I went through a list of government departments who we have been able to sell to in the past and where the door is now firmly closed,” he said.
“It’s wrong that there are 20 to 25 departments here in Albany spending money that is in part coming from local taxpayers, in Perth.”
Mr Shilcock estimated Albany missed out on up to $600,000 a year in his industry alone.
Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls said he would send a stern message to departments not adhering to buy local policy.
“I’m determined to make sure there is some buy local favouritism to local bidders and I need to ask those questions to building, management and works who manage contracts of that size,” he said.“Government departments have obligations under the buy local policy, and if I find examples where local businesses aren’t even given the chance to tender because head office is doing it all centralised, I will be very disappointed.”