Dec 4 - The Tender Topic of Tendering

Isn’t it great when our local and regional councils fully support and hire locals to do jobs for them?  At times you could say there's a bit of an Old Boys club going on, but that’s what happens when you have a population of 160,000 across our entire region. Most of our people either know or are related to one another.

Whangarei has always been seen as “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”  However, as the district grows in population, does everyone get their fair chance to bid for work?  Or do the councils stick with the same old familiar arrangements when putting out tenders?  I want our local contractors to have the opportunity to deliver their outstanding work here too, especially when it comes to tendering for very large work contracts, and not be sent to other areas of New Zealand just to find work.  Remember, when a council supports local businesses, these businesses in turn pay rates back to those councils. That’s what a local economy is.

Sometimes, it is not always best to stick with what you are familiar with.  Our newest citizens are settling in Marsden Cove, Ruakaka, Waipu, and Tikipunga West. They will put extra demand on our infrastructure. For those companies who want to offer their services to manage this infrastructure, will they too get the opportunity to bid for contracts? While councils are not allowed to show favouritism at the expense of other contractors who might offer an equally good service, councils do have obligations under public law to give repeat business to contractors who deserve it. The South Waikato District Council had to pay out over $330,000 when it failed to renew a contract with a company which operated a rubbish dump. That company had become dependent on its council contract, and suffered when the contract was given to another provider.

Some local councils and government departments within New Zealand list procurement opportunities and tenders via the Government External Tenders Service. Should we be worried that GETS suggests there are just a couple of tenders advertised by Whangarei District Council?  Or are we happy with status quo?

Over the years I have done many jobs for the various businesses and contractors around Whangarei and Northland, and I have heard the same statements being said many times – “Our Councils don’t allow us an opportunity to get the work.”  Now, there could be several reasons, but if our councils cannot prove those reasons under law, they will need to rethink what they are doing.