By Paul Hemsley
The nation’s leading engineering representative body, Engineers Australia, has backed the Tasmanian government’s move to overhaul the state’s tendering and procurement processes and development assessment and planning mechanisms.
The peak body approved of the government’s recommendations that have resulted from the Tasmanian Jobs Forum in August 2013, where Premier Lara Giddings announced the establishment of a Central Procurement Board.
This board would take advice from industry on how to structure government contracts to benefit local business and serve as a point of contact for businesses to access information about government tenders.
The government cited “extreme external economic pressures” as the cause for these “urgent short term” procurement measures to be adopted to assist Tasmanian businesses “though this difficult period”.
It is unsurprising that the Tasmanian government would make this move to ensure that its local businesses can easily ink government contracts because the state has consistently been cited as an economic underperformer in Commsec’s quarterly State of the States reports.
Engineers Australia’s Tasmania Division general manager Dr Vicki Gardiner said the creation of the Central Procurement Board is an effective measure to assess government tenders and procurement functions to increase opportunities for local businesses.
“Procurement is not only a core function of government, but a core driver of the Tasmanian economy,” Dr Gardiner said.
She hailed the inclusion of chartered fellow member of Engineers Australia, John Pitt to the Board to assist in improving effective and fair procurement processes for the benefit of local industry.
The other change by the state government announced at the Tasmanian Jobs Forum was to shift planning schemes, planning applications and planning permits from a paper based system to an online planning system.
The government expects this to result in faster application processes that are easier to understand.
It was a response to “perceptions” that major developments have been unnecessarily delayed through council assessment processes and “vexatious and frivolous” third party appeals.
Engineers Australia has long argued for development and assessment planning reform to achieve “consistent, clear processes” to improve workforce planning and streamline the delivery of engineering intensive projects.
Dr Gardiner said this will improve the delivery of infrastructure projects by offering more transparent scheduling.
“Increased transparency in planning will lead to consistency in infrastructure investment which in turn, will help alleviate spikes in utility prices,” Dr Gardiner said.
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