The decisions by state and local governments to use out-of-town agents to conduct auctions in rural communities has been called into question.
The irate comment by independent marketing specialist Chris Norris comes in the wake of the Queensland government's use of an out-of-town machinery auction specialist to dispose of the assets and livestock belonging to the former Queensland Agricultural Training Corporation.
Tomkins Valuers and Auctioneers, based in Rockhampton, was contracted to sell both the horses and the machinery and other items based at the colleges in Emerald and Longreach.
On the company website it says its major clients include the federal government, state governments, local councils, fleet and lease companies, insurance companies, financial institutions, banks and private entities.
Mr Norris said none of the eight or more local agents in Emerald were given the opportunity to tender for the work.
"Despite all the agents and auctioneers in the actual area where the disposal of assets happened, they did not even have the opportunity to tender or even be advised the auction of assets was taking place," he said.
"Once again the rural sector in towns somewhat struggling after the prolonged drought get shafted by none of the revenue staying in the local area."
A DAF spokesperson said they had used the current government Standard Offer Arrangement, which lists auction houses specialising in machinery and general plant and equipment, for the Emerald and Longreach clearing sales.
"DAF invited the five auction companies on the SOA to submit an expression interest to address criteria," the spokesperson said.
"Because of COVID, an auction house with extensive online capabilities was required.
"Rockhampton-based auctioneers Tompkins were successful in the transparent selection process."
The spokesperson added that local suppliers should deal with QTenders, which is administered through the Energy and Public Works Department.
The response was dismissed by Mr Norris, who described it as a standard line used by government and councils alike.
"Because local agents don't have a Local Buy account or a Tenders.net account, they don't see them, unless they're physically looking every day," he said.
"To my way of thinking, tenders should be advertised in local papers.
"I'm all for supporting local, and it's time this out-sourcing by government stops."
He also queried the sense in engaging an auction house that specialised in equipment and vehicles to sell horses.
"Local agents all have access to online auction platforms with wide audiences," he added. "They can do it just as well."
Mr Norris said it wasn't sour grapes on his part, saying he had enough work on his books.
Independent agent Chris Norris criticised local governments as much as the state government for not supporting local agencies with their auction business, listing Central Highlands and Maranoa specifically.
A Central Highlands Regional Council spokesperson responded, saying that late last year, it had simplified its tender process with the implementation of VendorPanel - an enterprise-level procurement portal.
"Working with local businesses is a priority for council and this intuitive software has added an extra layer of ease to the process," the statement said.
"The procurement department closely monitors what we spend with local suppliers and follows the local preference evaluation and weighting criteria outlined in our procurement policy.
"We have worked closely with our local suppliers to educate and support them during the transition to VendorPanel. We will also hold face-to-face supplier engagement sessions later in the year to go through the requirements for landing a tender.
"Alongside these initiatives with the community, an internal 'Buy Local, Grow Local' marketing campaign has recently been rolled out to encourage local spending."
Supporting local business has also been on the radar for the Maranoa Regional Council, according to Mayor Tyson Golder.
He said council had recently asked for a report on how it could include a 20 per cent weighting for locals in its tender considerations.
"Locals have normally got a lot of knowledge about the job at hand and can get the job done cost-effectively," he said.
"When all's said and done, locals are the people that'll fix a problem.
"We had a situation once where out-of-towners hit a problem and left town, and we had to get a local to finish the job."
A separate response from the council's procurement team said local suppliers could register with its procurement system to ensure they obtain quotes from council.
"Council uses a cloud-based tendering and quoting system as well as direct-to-supplier requests for quotes for procurement and has recently added a new micro panel process for very small contract services," it said.
"The advantage of these systems is that they are designed to be accessible with robust controls for confidentiality and transparency to support the contractor and council.
"In addition to larger tenders and expressions of interest, we also have supplier panels, which are a reduced red tape process designed to accommodate major and minor contracts including specific services.
"All aspects of councils procurement are aimed to provide council with flexible options with scalability to assist us deliver our operational and capital project objectives."
It said council's procurement policy framework recognised the importance of local suppliers and was publicly available on the council website.
The spokesperson went on to say that decisions were made on non-price criteria first and then price.
"Procurement processes are a balancing act between supporting local businesses, and maximising value-for-money.
"It is critical that council staff maintain compliance with standard processes and evaluation methodology to ensure that procurement activities align with the community's expectations.
"Council has a scoring system for business, allocating a range of stars (1 to 5 depending on how local the business is)."
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