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Councils’ “unfair competition” riles civic contractors

May 9, 2015

Local Government is on the end of a major grouch from the State’s Civic Contractors Federation, which says that councils self-performance of civic construction work is “clearly inconsistent with the country’s free market economy”.

In a strongly-worded message to all members of Council across the State, federation CEO Phillip Sutherland says that  his members have “deep concern” about the historical practice of Local Government Councils self-performing civil construction works rather than engaging with the private sector for delivery.

“In recent times we have seen a significant growth in this practice,” Mr Sutherland states. “Our concern is made more acute by the beleaguered state of the South Australia economy, which has resulted in diminished investment in public and private  infrastructure and a contraction in the total volume of work that SA Councils are offering to the market.

“Compounding our concern is that, in order to provide continuous work for the internal workforce, some Councils compete with local private contractors for work.

“It is NOT a community expectation that local government, or government at any level, competes with the private sector for work. On every measure this is an unfair and inequitable practice.

“The Federation seeks your assurance that going forward your council will focus its activities on its statutory role of regulator, government and governance and cease the practice of tendering for work in competition with private civil contractors, where applicable.

“Your Council should steer the boat, not row the boat!”

This is a heavily edited version of a missive which runs to three long pages, but “Grumpy” is confident that he has captured the essence of  the federation’s very deep concern.

If you want more detail, can I suggest that you contact  Mr Sutherland  or the CCF South Australian office at 1, South Road, Thebarton,  phone 81118000 or by email at

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