Local builder Robin Gipp.
Local builder Robin Gipp. Adam Hourigan

'Red tape is ridiculous'

RED TAPE and government regulations kept local builder Robin Gipp from tendering for the Grafton library project.

According to Mr Gipp the book work required to get a position on the list of builders allowed to bid for government projects worth more than $5 million is ridiculous.

"The book work in terms of what they want to see on your financials and your OH&S is just astronomical," said Mr Gipp.

He said that he had not worked on a project funded by the federal or state government for many years because it is simply not worth the trouble.

"I have not done any work through Public Works (the government department controlling the tender process) for a long time; not since the South Grafton High School where they dudded me for a lot of money."

As Clarence Valley Council does not have the expertise to manage a project of this size the tender process has been outsourced and is being managed by a public servant from the Department of Public Works who is based in Coffs Harbour.

Mr Gipp believes that this outsourcing process is inefficient and expensive.

"A lot of money from the project will go on administration that we do not need and I believe they are wasting money," Mr Gipp said.

He said the system favours large construction companies and that during the Federal Government stimulus package, the Valley's construction businesses received little work and no real benefit.

"The trouble is the government is only interested in dealing with a small number of very large builders like Reece and Leighton's; they do not want the small people.

"When the stimulus package was handed out those jobs went to only a few certain builders and locals saw little or no benefit.

"Subcontractors who do take on work with the big companies often end up going broke because the big companies screw them down too tight."

Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin questioned whether regulation was the issue.

"I don't know if its over-regulation," Ms Saffin said, before saying that OH&S concerns were the key driver.

"What I know is there is a concern about people's safety. These things don't come out of nowhere.

"Of course I'm taking a closer look, because first and foremost my priority is for regional people to get a go at everything."

She then said that CVC should try and ensure that local companies get work on the project.

"Council are at liberty to try to make sure that locals get a go," Ms Saffin said.

CVC have given a 10% extra weighting to com- panies that include details on how they will use local sub contractors and suppliers.

This is intended to ensure that at least some of the benefit of the $8 million project is injected into the local economy.

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