Michael McMillan. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Michael McMillan. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

McMillan raises questions over council granite tender

MAJOR tenders for the supply and installation of paving and the proposed underlying concrete foundations have only recently been advertised for this project, and will not close until December 23.

Mayor Margaret Strelow has already identified the successful Brisbane-based tenderer who will source expensive granite paving from China (TMB Saturday, November 28).

If indeed prior discussions and commitments regarding the tender have taken place between any councillor (or employee of council) and a prospective tenderer, this would be a serious breach of the procurement process (RRC Conditions of Tendering Sect 5.7 (b)). I call upon Mayor Strelow to confirm or deny that such discussions have been held with prospective south-east Queensland tenderer, Stonespec.

Firstly, let me restate that I am extremely supportive of this project and very grateful for the generous funding made available by the State Government with the intention of stimulating the Rockhampton regional economy. However, due to a lack of due process, this current council has failed to leverage the maximum benefit for our local economy.

Contrary to the Mayor's statements suggesting that no local contractors have the capacity to deliver against the requirements of the project, we do have quarries and stone supply companies in our region that are capable of sourcing and supplying extremely high-quality products that are distributed throughout Australia and sent off-shore.

How in the world does the current Mayor hope to support and stimulate the Rockhampton regional economy by sending up to $4 million outside of Central Queensland?

Council has demonstrated a clear lack of due process that has failed to maximise local outcomes that support and benefit our economy.

From the announcement of this development, our Mayor has rushed through token community consultation and planning with the primary objective of commencing work prior to the March 19 local government election.

Mayor Strelow has stated on numerous occasions that the urgency associated with the Quay Street Riverfront Project is driven by the agenda of delivering immediate support to our struggling local economy.

The State Government's allocation of $15 million in the wake of Cyclone Marcia was provided in an effort to do just that.

This then prompts two critical questions for our Mayor;

1. If the agenda and urgency behind the implementation of the Quay St Riverfront Project is to support local business and the Rockhampton regional economy, why is the Mayor now seeking to spend a large proportion of these funds with a Brisbane-based firm to secure granite product from China?; and

2. If, as suggested, we are seeking to genuinely support and promote local business interests, why are we not making concessions regarding our original design specifications and work with local business to establish a riverfront precinct that will showcase local materials, innovation and craftsmanship?

The Mayor, while paying lip service to "buying local" and contradicting council's own tender evaluation criteria that places a high value on the development of local business and industry, has overlooked local suppliers of quality products and highly skilled urban design businesses in favour of southern-based operations. This decision has failed to live up to her commitment to grow local jobs through council encouragement policies.

No one wants to come to Rockhampton to see Chinese granite, as viewed all over the world, but they would certainly like to see something unique to our region. If you are truly committed to growing local business you co-operate and form alliances, you do not merely send out a tender with unrealistic response times.

If I was in the mayoral chair I would be letting a managing contract and allowing for council co-operation with local quarries, designers, artists, concrete and construction experts in order to produce an eye-turning, durable, value-for-money local showpiece.

I am confident that our region, if provided the opportunity, would deliver a world-class riverfront precinct that would not only be unique to Rockhampton but would also showcase local materials, innovation and craftsmanship.

See Mayor Strelow's response here: Strelow responds to McMillan's questions over granite tender



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