The ASI has applauded Senator Nick Xenophon and his parliamentary team for working with the Australian Government to revamp Commonwealth Procurement Rules that should allow local industry greater opportunity to compete for taxpayer funded work.

The new provisions, which will take effect from March next year, will obligate bidders for Government projects worth more than $4 million to disclose how much locally-produced material they will source, how they contribute to local employment and growing local skills, and demonstrate that materials they use comply with Australian product standards.

Australian Government departments and agencies will also need to consider whole-of-life costs of projects, not just the build cost, in project procurement decisions.

ASI Chief Executive, Tony Dixon said that the new provisions are well in line with the ASI’s position on procurement emphasising better recognition of the flow-on economic benefits of engaging more with local industry and adherence to established Australian standards so all parties play by the same rules.

“These changes are well in line with our discussions with all sides of politics and even more pleasing that they have been supported by both major parties and the crossbenchers,” he said.

News of the procurement rule changes come within a week of the dedicated new Australian Standard covering structural steelwork (AS/NZS 5131) being released.

“We particularly welcome the greater onus on Australian Government offerings to be specified to established local standards which will help ensure that all those bidding play by the same rules for fairer procurement,” Dixon said.

“However, we are still working through the detail and clarifying the application. For instance, we would like to see more effective mechanisms in place with independent checks and verifications to ensure that what is specified is ultimately what gets supplied.

“But clearly these changes recognise the value of local industry whilst keeping within Australia’s existing WTO and other trade related obligations.”