'Slap in the face': Mayor loses fight in local jobs dispute
"ROLLED" was the term used by the mayor to describe a six-against-two situation, which ended in him holding the wrong end of the stick.
A motion tabled at the Gladstone Regional Council's general meeting yesterday saw Matt Burnett and deputy mayor Chris Trevor go up against the seven councillors, only to be sorely voted down.
The hot topic was which company to award a tender to for the Agnes Water waste water treatment plant upgrade.
The decision rested on two companies; Gladstone based Blomfield Excavations and Brisbane's CASA Engineering.
And while the local company may seem the obvious choice for the council given their local preference policy, it was the 39% extra cost that had councillors taking a second look at who to choose.
To award Blomfield Excavations the contract, it would cost the council $577,156 as opposed to $410,786 for CASA Engineering.
Councillor Kahn Goodluck, who was in favour of the latter, said it was important to remember the council's "outstanding track record" of the amount of local tenders awarded.
"I know that the community is hurting for jobs," he said.
"But I can't support a 39% increase and in this particular case there is no sensible reason to support Blomfields."
Councillors Glenn Churchill, PJ Siobhanian, Rick Hansen and Cindi Bush also chimed in on the issue in agreement with Cr Goodluck.
"It's one of those situations where we're damned if we do and damned if we don't," Cr Churchill said.
"But I believe we have a responsibility to residents and ratepayers to get the best bang for our buck."
Cr Bush said while going with the local contract would mean local jobs, it shouldn't be forgotten that non-local workers would bring benefits to the region.
"The project will be carried out for 17 weeks and these workers will need somewhere to stay, shop and things to do while they are here, let's not forget they will be spending locally," she said.
But Cr Burnett said it would be a "slap in the face" for the State Government if the council was to award the contract to an external company.
"Especially with all of the funding the Gladstone region has received from the State recently, which is intended to create local jobs," he said.
A few laughs were had around the chamber when the next thing the mayor said was; "But I can already tell how this vote will go, and I'm ready to be rolled".
However the deciding factor of the council's decision was that while Blomfield Excavations had "reasonable experience" to carry out the works, it did not have any previous experience on treatment plant projects.
Additionally, during tender evaluation, Blomfield stated it would use the same crew from the Agnes Water Stage 3 sewer pipeline project, which is now under construction.
Any delays to the Agnes Water Stage 3 project would impact on Blomfield's ability to finish the upgrade this financial year.
The company has also been awarded three projects of more than $3 million in works, with the council considering another tender from the company for further works in the region.