More crap to stop: The government’s private tendering process is a classic affair

Taxpayers are paying the $ 1.5 billion price for broken political processes that put small businesses out of bidding, writes Senator Jacqui Lambie.

(Image: Tom Red / Private Media)

Every year the federal government awards tens of thousands of contracts to private companies in a broken process that takes place behind closed doors.

The contracts provide plenty of jobs, but the government doesn’t make more than half of them public. In 2019-20, $ 1.5 billion of your money was distributed under the table in the private sector.

But the government doesn’t seem to be concerned about that.

If your car breaks down, take it to a mechanic. If that mechanic gives you $ 10,000 to repair a flat tire, contact another mechanic. But the government says don’t worry – it’s more than happy to be ripped off. What’s happening?

Politicians generally do not have much life experience. Besides breaking the ground for the cameras here and there, their well-moistened hands are used to the pen, not the wrench. This could explain why they are so loose with your money. That doesn’t just fail in the pub test, it also disqualifies them when they are hired.

The government is leaving the business of building our nation to private companies. And what a gigantic business it is. A lot of money is spent on a public procurement process, but any project worth less than $ 80,000 can be awarded to anyone – without review.

You can see where this is going.

Crikey worm

In the past four years, there have been three times as many contracts between $ 78,000 and $ 80,000 – the threshold – than between $ 80,000 and $ 82,000. Coincidence? Come on. It’s like something in the supermarket is $ 9.99, like we don’t notice it is $ 10.

It’s not the only piece of wool they pull over our eyes, either. A contract that goes beyond the budget and also requires more tax money can invade the public purse without consequence.

So here we have another classic place – and this harms small businesses. They need all the work they can get while the coronavirus country is playing an endless game of chance.

A government contract could keep a small business going. Leaving out could be the difference between staying open and closing the doors. If the government chooses who gets the job without applying for it, small businesses have no chance of getting their shot.

The way the government spends money needs to be kept to a standard. The Leppington Triangle property for Western Sydney Airport was purchased for about $ 30 million when it was worth only $ 3 million. It didn’t see a problem with this until the Australian National Audit Office made the rest of us aware of it. And then the government was just as shocked as we were! Give me a break.

The government thinks it has money to throw this junk away, but it will chase people over $ 500 to the end of the world. His Robodebt algorithm mistakenly suspected that they owed something.

Here are some solutions on how you can stop this crap.

First, lower the tender limit so that more companies can compete and there is more transparency. Make it so that the government can’t rip us off for more than a few dollars at a time. Don’t make yourself worth bothering at all.

Second, get a decent cop on the tact to enforce current standards. No more USD 79,999 contracts are advertised in the dark.

Third, if costs go down, it’s up to the company, not the taxpayer.

Small orders below the tendering threshold come in drops and drops. They might not be as scandalous as buying a ridiculously overpriced property near an airport, but $ 30 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the $ 1.5 billion that was spent last year alone unpaid contracts were issued.

Jacqui Lambie is an Independent Senator for Tasmania.

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