Library mission impossible

BUILDERS wishing to gain accreditation to tender for the Clarence Valley Library project face at least $35,000 in legal and consultancy fees.

Grafton-based builder Robin Gipp, who has not had a workplace compensation claim made against his business since 1962, inspected the accreditation process necessary for him to tender for the project.

Mr Gipp was told by the Master Builders Association that the process would take six to nine months, meaning that even if he was successful the tender for the library would already have been awarded by that time.

Mr Gipp said that spending this much money on simply gaining the certification was comparable to gambling, because the way the tender process is managed is not clear and there is no guarantee that he would be able to secure a government contract.

"To my way of thinking, buying into this process is like betting on race horses," said Mr Gipp.

"You would have to allocate all of those resources and that only gets you on the tender list; then, if Council doesn't want you to tender you won't get a chance."

The application, which has to be made to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, asks businesses looking for accreditation detailed questions about their OH&S record.

These include the number of lost-time injury hours a business has had to pay out over the past year, divided by the number of hours workers have worked on site for that year, multiplied by a million, so that a lost-time injury frequency rate can be worked out.

The form also asks businesses to divide the number of injury claims they have had to pay out by the number of workers they employ.

Finally, businesses need to be assessed to see if they comply with international OH&S stand- ards and submit plans from previous jobs that must be written in accordance with 20 different cri- teria in order to be successful.

"Why should ratepayers and taxpayers in Grafton pay for an outside company to come in and build their library when local builders can do it?" Mr Gipp said.

Legal counsel for the Master Builders Association, Richard Calver, indicated that the system needs to be reviewed.

"The Federal Government has promised a review into the Construction OHS Accredi- tation Scheme and that review should not be delayed any longer," said Mr Calver.

Page MP Janelle Saffin said her track record for helping the people of Grafton solve problems is very good and that if this is a real issue she will be happy to work on behalf of the local construction industry.

Ms Saffin was in Grafton yesterday to open a stage in market square that was built and designed by local builders.

Topics:  clarence valley library

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