The Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business says the release today of the Auditor General’s report on the temporary state procurement controls put in place as a COVID response has highlighted another failure of the McGowan Government to get the best outcome for businesses in Western Australia.
“This policy was announced in May last year to great fanfare and was supported by the Opposition” Dr Thomas said. “According to the Government it was meant to “make it easier for government agencies to award and extend goods and services contracts with local businesses”.
The Government stated clearly that one of their objectives was to “reduce the barriers that impede new suppliers from having the opportunity to supply goods or services”.
However the Auditor General has today highlighted the failings of the plan, stating that “there was no indication that it made any material difference to reducing the barriers that impede new suppliers from having the opportunity to supply goods or services. Nor did it maximise opportunities for local businesses.”
“This was a promising plan that has fallen far short of its goals, and the Government needs to acknowledge that it should have done better” Dr Thomas said.
“Once again the business community is underwhelmed by the support coming from the McGowan Government. We have seen this with the slow and uncertain roll out of lockdown compensation, and now with the inability to fulfil this basic COVID response commitment.”
“It is also concerning that 58% of Government entities surveyed were found to have deficiencies in their procurement controls. This applied to general procurement and not just the COVID response policy.”
The report was not all bad news for the Government, with the Auditor General finding that most entities made use of the temporary changes.
However a line in the report that reads –
“Only 1 entity could identify that the temporary changes may have resulted in a purchase being made locally that otherwise could have been made from a non-local supplier. Most entities (85%) believed it resulted in either no purchases or minimal purchases being made locally that would have otherwise been made from a non-local supplier..” must raise concerns.
“This Government gave itself a clear aim to reduce barriers to new suppliers, which should have meant a greater entry of new small businesses into the contracting market place” Dr Thomas said.
“The result does not match that aim.”
“We had a long Parliamentary debate last year about putting local suppliers first, but that request appears to have fallen on deaf ears.”