Foreign contractors suck up taxpayers’ money

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto is calling for a fair go for Australian-owned contractors when it comes to large public infrastructure projects.

HINCHINBROOK MP Nick Dametto says Australians should be “absolutely appalled” by the conduct of State and Federal governments in allowing foreign-owned multinationals to profiteer off the majority of big-ticket projects while Australian companies suffer.

Mr Dametto said figures from lobby group Australian Owned Contractors (AOC), which revealed nearly 80 per cent of large public infrastructure projects being managed by Tier 1 contractors are foreign-owned multinationals, was “unacceptable”.

“Once again, State and Federal governments seem to turn a blind eye as billions are sent overseas by foreign-owned Tier One contractors, all the while having majority Australian-owned companies miss out,” Mr Dametto said.

“Quite frankly, it’s un-Australian and especially unfair to the smaller, locally owned Tier 2 and 3 contractors with no requirement for the larger companies to partner with them. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

Mr Dametto said he supported AOC’s solution of breaking up of public infrastructure projects into smaller packages which would then allow majority Australian-owned mid-tier businesses to bid for them.

“With the Prime Minister recently announcing that Australia has now slipped into a recession, it’s time to change Federal and State policy to ensure Australia looks after Australians. It’s vital that profits any businesses makes in Australia are kept here as much as possible,” he said.

“I’m sure taxpayers would much rather see their money go back into the community than overseas.”

In the event projects can’t be broken up, AOC has suggested State governments include an “industry sustainability criteria” as part of the procurement process for all major public infrastructure projects, which would force Tier 1 contractors to partner with locally owned Tier 2 and 3 contractors in head contracts.

“Australians should join me in being absolutely disgusted in not only the fact that taxpayers money is being siphoned off by multinational companies but that there is no mechanism in place to guarantee Aussie taxpayer dollars stay in Australia, ” Mr Dametto said.

“As AOC say, such a criteria would assess the nature and extent of mid-tier contractor involvement in the delivery consortium as part of the broader evaluation process, which would include design, construction and project management capability.”

Mr Dametto said foreign interests “had reaped the benefits of doing business in Australia with little return for far too long”.

“This isn’t about being against foreign investment. This is about fairness, plain and simple. State and Federal governments should be making sure the majority of our tax dollars invested in projects stay here,” he said.

“Let’s put Australian-owned businesses first

Nick Dametto MP