Road works contracts should create local jobs

NSW’s peak local government body has reiterated the vital importance of State contracts that pay for local NSW council trained professionals to perform road maintenance on State roads after the NSW Government sought expressions of interest from private sector operators.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said the State Government’s Road Maintenance Council Contracts (RMCC) provided around $200 million annually and supported many hundreds of jobs in NSW.

“State Government road contracts support council jobs in regional areas, so outsourcing road works to the private sector has the potential to rob local communities of important employment opportunities for NSW residents,” Cr Scott said.

“This issue has never been more important than now, when councils are seeking Government support to drive a locally-led economic recovery from a disastrous past 12 months.

“LGNSW has worked tirelessly with the NSW Government on behalf of councils to secure a strong undertaking for contract road works into the future as part of efforts to deliver a council-led, serviceable and sustainable State road network.

“For example, these contracts help secure the direct employment of 11 people in one regional council, and if they were lost it could mean a reduction of up to 40 people in their community and an estimated economic loss of around $2 million per annum.

“Another regional mayor told me around 75 jobs depended upon these road maintenance contracts.”

Cr Scott said to this point the NSW Government had worked closely with LGNSW, with the most recent outcome being the securing of road maintenance contracts that came into effect from July 2020.

“They also extended the contracts from 12 months to 24 months in response to our requests to help councils with forward planning,” Cr Scott said.

“These are very positive outcomes and are greatly appreciated.

“But private tenders represent a missed opportunity to provide further support for councils and their communities. LGNSW is calling for the Government to consider rolling these works into RMCCs in the future instead.”

NSW councils are currently responsible for around 90 per cent, or around 164,000 kilometres, of the State’s roads.

“Council have a proven track record of providing excellent value for money and outstanding quality road maintenance works. Time and time again council people prove to be the best people for the job,” Cr Scott said.

“Rolling this other work that currently lies outside the scope of existing contracts not only supports existing regional jobs and potentially create new ones, it also makes good economic and practical sense.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW has been calling on the NSW Government to provide economic support for councils so they can lead the economic recovery in their communities.

“In the past 12 months alone, councils have aptly demonstrated their ability to provide frontline leadership through the worst drought on record, bushfires and the impacts of COVID-19, without a significant drop in the quality infrastructure and services they provide,” she said.

“I hope in the future the NSW Government will give councils the first opportunity to do these works rather than put them out to tender and show greater thought for regional councils and their employees.”

Cr Scott said in the meantime councils could bid for additional road maintenance works that fall outside existing contract space.

“We strongly encourage councils to put in an application so that it increases the opportunity to drive additional local employment while further bolstering supply chains,” she said.

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