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Portt’s analysis: Procurement under Labor

Labor’s proposed 10-point Buy Australia Plan and $15 billion procurement program intends “hard code” procurement into government. 

To help enterprises understand the changes from the new Federal Government policy, Portt has released guidance and expert interview content to assist procurement teams to get ahead of the curve and prepare for changes.  

The impacts and causes of corruption are also put in the spotlight with opinions given on expectations of The National Anti-Corruption Commission with procurement. 

Portt sought the views of industry experts Lesley Skinner, Paul Hannan, Scott Alden and Justin Sara to examine two major Labor policies: the 10-Point Buy Australian Plan and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The 10-point Buy Australia Plan, includes a policy to “level the playing field by bringing in a Fair Go Procurement Framework”

Challenges of Buy Australia for procurement teams

Portt says while the Buy Australia policy looks promising for Australian enterprises, there will inevitably be challenges for procurement leaders. 

Challenges may include alignment with free trade and state agreements; red tape removal to make it easier for SMEs and First Nations businesses;  staying competitive and affordable in competition with overseas suppliers and making tenders more attractive to Australian SMEs and regional suppliers, according to Portt. 

“The government tends to bundle things up and build them into a size that becomes more on the radar of international players wanting to participate. Splitting procurement into sections means more administration needs to be done, but it could also mean it allows us to target SMEs while providing greater control over procurement and more resilience against that type of challenge,” Paul Hannan, Group Director, Chief Procurement Officer, NSW Department of Education told Portt. 

Good policy or a box ticking exercise?

Lesley Skinner, Director, Commercial Law and Procurement, Department of Regional NSW believes Australia can be more viable as a procurement source by working with suppliers and industry groups. 

Government is often scrutinized for a lack of engagement and Lesley says talking to industry leaders about their limits and roadblocks is essential to the policy’s success.

“We need to work with them to build up their capacity and capability and overcome roadblocks. Focus on that capability over time, rather than thinking procurement alone will build capability,” Lesley says. 

How to combat procurement corruption

Greater record keeping has been put under the microscope by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. 

“When enterprises need to recall the details and decision-making surrounding a tender from 18 months ago, the value of effective contract management and record keeping becomes clear,” Portt says. 

Justin Sara, Director ArcBlue highlighted that in South Australia and Western Australia, half of corruption reports relate to procurement.

Justin says most enterprises don’t engage in anti-corruption training until after an investigation. 

“Don’t underestimate the frequency of fraud and corruption. Most people have a bias, thinking they’re low risk for corruption when in reality, it has a wide reach,” he said. 

On changes on the horizon with the anti-corruption commission, Justin says there’s a shift of accountability towards senior management for anti-corruption operations instead of deferring to an integrity body. 

Mandatory reporting and greater worker expectation from procurement leaders were noted.   

The experts interviewed by Portt said there were practical steps leaders can take to prepare for the National Anti-Corruption Commission. 

These included:

  • moving people around to avoid comfort with contract management 
  • invest in record keeping and tracking including recording decision making processes
  • understand the difference between corruption and maladministration
  • practical and effective training focused on policies and procedures 

Read Procurement under Labor: What the new government’s proposed policies mean for procurement leaders. 


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