According to the association, major projects like the Bruce Highway Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway upgrade ($800m) went to overseas-owned head contractors. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
According to the association, major projects like the Bruce Highway Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway upgrade ($800m) went to overseas-owned head contractors. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Foreigners keep locals locked out of $50b in projects

AUSSIE builders have been locked out of tens of billions of dollars worth of essential road, rail and other infrastructure projects which are instead going to a foreign-owned major operators, an association representing the Australian firms say.

Australian-owned Contractors - whose members employ 12,000 workers - claim an incredible $38 billion of the $50 billion spent on 20 major projects in five years has been awarded to the foreign-owned lead contractors.

It says government rules are making it impossible for mid-tier Australian firms like Queensland's BMD and Wagners, to win the major work because they can't yet offer the same financial guarantees.

According to the association, major projects like the Toowoomba Range second crossing ($1.6 billion) and the Bruce Highway Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway upgrade ($800m) went to overseas-owned head contractors.

The group says bigger contracts should be broken up to let mid-tier companies - who are good for projects worth $100m to $200m but want to expand - bid for them and an "industry sustainability" rule should be included in deciding work to help build skills and local firms and the 12,000 workers they employ. AOC chief executive officer Brent Crockford said the association wrote to government decision makers last week calling for urgent changes.

"The growing trend to bundle big infrastructure projects into large multibillion-dollar tender packages effectively cuts out Australian project leadership and has led to offshore domination and concentration," Mr Crockford said.

"Simply by breaking up procurement packages, local competition can be strengthened with greater skills development and domestic company growth."

A spokeswoman for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said all projects with more than $20 million in federal money were required to have a local industry participation plan as a part of the National Partnership Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

A third of contracts by value went to Aussie firms, she said.


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