The council bought a $35,000 Mazda 6 from an out-of-town business.
The council bought a $35,000 Mazda 6 from an out-of-town business.

Local business should be supported

LOCAL businesses look likely to get a better hearing after acting mayor Julie Arthur promised yesterday to raise the issue of council awarding tenders at next month’s meeting between councillors and executive staff.

“I mentioned this at our November meeting,” Ms Arthur said. “I hope we will now discuss it at the next meeting in December.

“I will also raise the matter of tenders that have been awarded to out-of-town businesses by senior council officers then being placed on the CEO and mayor’s desks so they are fully aware of them.

“I believe the CEO already has the delegation to sign off on a tender.”

Ms Arthur’s commitment follows the public fallout from the council buying a $35,000 Mazda 6 from Gympie rather than giving the sale to Wide Bay Motors in Hervey Bay – when the same model was in stock here and readily available.

Councillor Gerard O’Connell has also bought into the debate. On Wednesday he announced at the end of the council meeting in Maryborough – and just before the councillors and staff went into their confidential session – that he had asked CEO Andrew Brien to set up a councillor-staff workshop to discuss a stronger support of local businesses.

“I’m not talking about breaking the law as in the Local Government Act and I’m not talking about holding hands with local businesses and staring into each other’s eyes,” he said yesterday.

“I want us to canvas ways we can give greater favour to local businesses and perhaps we need a policy that decisions made to give business to people out of the region should be run by the mayor.

“We could also approach the Local Government Minister Desley Boyle about how we can give more support to local business without contravening legislation.

“But I don’t want to be debating the purchase of a shovel. I want to see a dollar level set where the elected representatives, that is the councillors, can discuss tenders awarded out of town before they are announced.”

Mr O’Connell said some business people here were “daunted” by the council’s tender process and more communication between the council and chambers of commerce could encourage more local businesses to tender.

Ms Arthur said Mr O’Connell was out of order in raising the issue at Wednesday’s council meeting.

“He wasn’t at the November executive meeting so he didn’t know I’d raised the matter then.”

Eight per cent of council tenders are awarded out of the region.

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