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Procurement policy could ‘impact safety’ and ‘another layer of red tape’, industry says

The “Ethical Standards Mandate”, a demerit point scheme that threatens suppliers with possible suspension if they break the rules, came into play on August 1 for the building, construction, and maintenance industry.

Suppliers can now rack up demerit points for breaching rules relating to issues such as workplace health and safety and industrial relations.

Companies that notch up 20 or more demerit points in 12 months could be punished with suspension, and prevent them from gaining future government work. But industry groups have slammed the policy for lacking transparency, alleging they were barely consulted by bureaucrats about the possible negative impacts on business.

Master Builders Queensland deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said the Ethical Standards Mandate and related Ethical Standards Threshold was “red tape on red tape”.

“It’s just layer upon layer of (policy) duplication,” he said. “The problem we raised and that we still have is that offences, particularly on the ones that relate to building, workplace health and safety and industrial relations, and the three that deal with payment … that contractors could rack up 20 points very quickly because some of those things can be breached very simply.”

Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Priscilla Radice said the Government had not made a clear case for the policy. “From an industry perspective this looks and feels like overreach and another level of red tape,” she said.

Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport, Mick de Brenni. (AAP Image/Darren England) “It has the potential to negatively impact on jobs, especially in the regions, as well as make the sector less competitive and negatively impact safety outcomes on worksites.

“Industry is concerned by an apparent lack of transparency and the linking of workplace health and safety and industrial relations issues into one blunt instrument.”

Ms Radice said “no meaningful” two-way consultation had been done with the group prior to the policy’s implementation. Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the Government was responding to a parliamentary wage theft report by “strengthening the Buy Queensland approach”.

Madura McCormack, Townsville Bulletin