Buy Queensland suppliers presentation Cairns - transcript

In this video – Buy Queensland suppliers presentation, Cairns – we hear about the latest developments in government procurement and find out how suppliers can improve their tender opportunities.

Sharon Bailey: My name is Sharon Bailey. I work with the Department of Housing and Public Works and we've got a whole range of people here today from Housing and Public Works.

The people with lanyards, they're the people to ask questions of. We've got people from Housing and Public Works who work in the procurement area and the compliance area. We've got people from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training who'll be talking a little bit today about some of the programs they offer and, particularly, their Mentoring Program and we've got people from the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships who are talking about some of the policies and programs there as well.

But, basically, if you see someone with a lanyard, please don't hesitate to ask them a question. The whole session is about you. We're here to try and give you a sense of what's been happening in procurement policy, some of the things that are around, some of the supports that we have to help you in winning business and generally. So, it just is about you. If you have a question that we haven't already answered in the pre-session, don't hesitate to either ask it at the end of the presentation today or we've got some time after this back in the other room.

So, really, ask us. If we don't know today, we will take your details and get back to you.

So, the government does spend a lot of money, between $14 and $18 billion a year in procurement. That's a substantial amount of money. And, I guess, if there's a theme to this presentation, and it will be a short presentation, it is just saying that we know that value for money is more than just price. That, for the government, value for money is also about jobs, it's also about social objectives, and environmental objectives. And what we're here today to talk to you about is how we're trying to give life to that and trying to make that real.

Because that's not an idea that's new. That idea's been around for a long time. But how do we shift practice to move in that direction and make sure that local businesses are benefiting from that spend is part of what we're here today to talk about. And we're not perfect. We're certainly not there yet. But there's a range of things we're doing to try and make that happen as a manner of business. Alright, so there's a short little video that'll just set the scene for today.

Narrator: When the Queensland government spends money on products and services, how are those opportunities shared? We want local companies who employ locals to share in the opportunity, and so should companies that look out for their employees' wellbeing. It's fair to say that companies who are providing quality local jobs and doing the right thing by the environment should share in the opportunity, too. That's why we've changed the way we buy. The Buy Queensland procurement approach supports local businesses, big and small, that are helping Queensland to be economically, socially, and environmentally healthy. If you want to know more, download a copy of the procurement policy and see how you can share in the opportunity.

Sharon Bailey: As I mentioned at the beginning, we've been doing a range of things over the last 18 months or so to give life to those ideas. Because the ideas have been around for a long time. The government's been wanting to use procurement to make sure there is regional development, jobs, and good practices out in the sector. There's a whole range of tools that have been developed over the last 2 years to try and give that life. And so, today, we're going to cover a range of things in the presentation to give you a sense of some of those things, to give you a sense of where you might look for opportunities, some of the policies, some of the tips, some of the resources that are available.

And we know navigating government and trying to find the right piece of information can be hard. At the end of today, we'll be emailing you with a link to where all these resources are. And so, hopefully, you'll go away today with at least some more information that might make that easier. But as I said, if there are questions out of the presentation, don't hesitate to ask me at the end. But also, tea and coffee's still available in the other room. Don't hesitate to stop in, have another cup of tea, and grab one of these people and ask them any of the specific questions that you have.

So, there is a local spend. In the Cairns region, there was a significant spend in the last 12 months. And so, we want to make sure we're getting the maximum value out of that. And that value isn't only price. Price is part of it, but there's a broader value for government. And so, we're keen to talk to you about where you can find opportunities, and that's on 2 (web)sites. There is the QTenders site, which will generally have information about goods and service tenders. It might have some building and construction projects but, generally, it's the broader category of goods and services.

And there's eTenders, where you will find your maintenance projects, including public housing, civic education, sports facilities, those sorts of things. So, they're 2 good sites. You can register for those sites so that you can get email notifications of when work's coming up. But it's also important to know there's a range of other sites available. So, certainly, there's the LG, the Local Government Tender Box, the LG Tender Box that you register for, as well, for local government opportunities. And then, of course, there's the Commonwealth site, which is AusTender, which you can register with as well to find out about that broader range of opportunities.

Also, I'm aware that a number of companies don't deal directly with government, but they're in the supplier chain. If you go to the Queensland Contracts Directory, you can get a sense of what contracts have been let, and then what packages might be coming that you might be able to talk to suppliers about.

One of the things we've been working on, and we're almost there, but probably in a month or so's time we're going to be releasing what's called a Forward Procurement Pipeline. So, this will be an online device where you can jump on and have a look at what is coming up over the next 12 months in terms of procurement.

At the moment, it's the end of the financial year. There's not a lot of information on there, but certainly, a few of the people (here today) can demonstrate that to you if you're interested. Come 1 July, people will be uploading their procurement for the coming quarter and the coming year. There'll be a lot of more information on there.

But the idea is that you'll be able to get onto that site, search by region, you can search by a kind of procurement category, and get a sense of what work might be coming up so that people can start to plan. We know how important that is in local areas because we tend to saturate the market, and then, you know, people have to go outside the local area for supply. This is trying to give local industry a little bit more of a heads-up about what's coming down the pipeline.

As I said, we're not quite there yet but, hopefully, in the next month or so, we'll be launching that, getting more departments to get onto it, and make sure we've got that broader forecasting of opportunities, which also will put, I think, a bit of pressure on government to start to smooth out that procurement over the quarters. So please watch out for that. Again, we'll be emailing at the end of the session with a link to where the resources will be and, certainly, when that is launched, it will up on that site - initially on the QTenders website.

So, when we talk about local benefits, what does that really mean? I guess it's the sense that government is very keen to encourage local suppliers to apply for opportunities, so much so that it's looking at how it weighs evaluation criteria to encourage that. So, we've got somewhere up to a 30% weighting on contracts for local benefits. It depends. They talk about significant procurement. The threshold for significant procurement differs from government department to government department because they have different spends. But the idea is how do we make sure that we have, in those areas, at least one regional and one Queensland supplier quoting where possible, and that procurement offices are conducting a local benefit test, which is really about what you're bringing to the local area when you're tendering. Is it about jobs? Is it about apprentices and trainees? Is it about local indigenous organisations? So, having that opportunity to make sure that's considered in the tender process.

And I know when I've talked to suppliers before, it's really about how do you get a nice concise statement about what it is that you do. Because, often times, you're already doing that. You are providing local benefits. It's just making sure that it's clear what you're doing. Sometimes, you might think, “The government agencies know what I do. They know what I deliver to those local buyers.” Just give us a statement of what it is that you're doing. It doesn't have to be& War and Peace, but a sense of what are you doing in terms of local jobs, working with other local suppliers in the supply chain, that sort of thing. Because it's important. We're keen to encourage that.

We've also got a whole range of material online. And some of those are videos, some of them are checklists, and links to further information, really, about how can we make this easier for you? So just some guidance material. If you haven't had a look at that recently, please, go back and have a look. We're trying to support suppliers as much as possible when dealing with government, and so, explaining.

We know that some of our documentation is a bit hard to get through. Some of this material will just help support you when you're putting in those tenders. So, there's a whole range of tips for tendering success, other sorts of guidance which is worth checking out.

You might have heard of the term, best practice principles. That's just a range of principles that the government has put on projects that are $100 million and above, or if they're a particularly sensitive project, a minister can designate a project as having best practice principles. That is about making sure the suppliers on those jobs are engaging in best practice workplace health and safety, in terms of apprenticeship and trainees, in terms of the industrial relations, and in terms of compliance with government policy, but also with contract materials. So, if you find yourself subcontracting for work within a major project, you may be asked about what you're doing in that area. But that's largely, when people use the term, best practice principles, that's what they're talking about and, as I said, largely, on those larger jobs $100 million dollars or above.

One of the things people from industry and government departments have come to talk to us about is food and beverage supply. They’ve said, "Look, we're keen to source local produce, local food and beverages, but we're not sure who we can trust that is actually a local supplier."

So, the government's developed this directory. It had a soft launch last month and it will be launched by the minister in early August. It has both caterers and primary produce providers and it very easy to register for. If you are a local supplier, or if you know someone who should be on there, please encourage them to register. The idea is that as long as they have a physical presence in Queensland, they employ local Queenslanders, and they supply our local produce, they're eligible to be on that register.

And so, we're keen to have as many suppliers on there as possible so that people can use them for the catering for events, but also, industries come to us and say they're keen to buy local as well. This is one small mechanism that we can use to help in that regard.

You'll notice the term, a Supplier Code of Conduct. The government's very keen to do business with people who are ethical and engaging in good social and environmental practices. So, it’s about being clear in those regards. We have people sign up to a Supplier Code of Conduct. As you know, procurement can be a bit of a risky business. If we're doing business with someone who isn't engaging in the best practices, that usually comes back on the government. But we know there are so many businesses who are engaging in better than the standard practice, and it's important to acknowledge that.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there's the sense that value for money can encompass so much more than just price. And one of the areas that the government is keen on is the whole area of social procurement and working with social enterprises, or mainstream suppliers, who are doing things that have a really positive social impact. Whether that's with disadvantaged job seekers, whether it’s with indigenous businesses, whether it’s with other social enterprises, we're keen to hear about that. There's a range of guidance material that's available that will talk you through all of that.

But please don't hesitate to include details when you're putting in for a tender if that is part of your business model. It's really helpful to know because the departments are keen to have a diverse supply pool, and this is one way of doing that.

I also wanted to let you know that we have established a compliance unit that has 2 areas. One is a complaints area where people can provide us with information where things haven't gone as well as they wanted to, or they have concerns. We'll then direct that complaint to the right area to have make sure it gets resolved. We had one just in the last week. Someone came to us and said, "Look, I'm keen to build this product and tender for this product but, when you look at all the documentation, it basically says unless you've built that product for the government before, you can't build that product for the government. You can't even tender. Which means you're shutting local suppliers out."

He was absolutely right. We had a look at that. We went and talked to the department involved. They hadn't realised that if you put these documents together, that's what it said, and they amended that. And now, that supplier is able to tender. He's got no guarantee of winning the work, but he is now able to tender, and it was terrific to have that resolved. Because, if it was happening for him, it was happening for other people. But until we knew about it, we couldn't really do anything about it. So, that is a small example but, of course, there's a whole range of other complaints that come up that we can follow through and at least try and get resolved.

On the other side of the business, we're doing audits on the best practice principles, the work packages, just to make sure that they're living up to the principles on training hours, guarantees and, certainly, on the Queensland Food and Beverage Directory, as well. So, this is saying, we're keen to try and put some things in place. But we're also keen to go out and make sure that those things are working the way that they should be.

And I'd now like to invite one of my colleagues who works for the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training to come up and talk a little bit about what that department's doing in this space.

- Thanks, Sharon. As Sharon mentioned, I'm from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training and, as our name suggests, we're really committed to small businesses and to seeing more start, and to grow, and to employ more Queenslanders. Today, I just want to take you through a couple of the programs and services that we have on offer for small businesses that can assist you, hopefully, in winning more business with government.

First, I want to draw your attention to the Go Local, Grow Local campaign. This one is really complimentary to Buy Queensland and is all about highlighting and celebrating the economic and social impact that small businesses and local businesses have on the community and their wider region. Similar to Buy Queensland, which encourages government buyers to buy locally, this campaign encourages Queenslanders, all of us, to purchase locally as well. To assist consumers in making those informed choices, we've developed some campaign materials that are available to small businesses.

You might have already picked up one of the red Go Local packs and, if not, I encourage you to do so. In there, you'll find a number of assets - posters, stickers, a guide to how you can go local, and a link that'll take you through to the advertising toolkit where you can download digital assets as well. We'd encourage you to use those in store, on your website, on your social media, and that will make you stand out by saying, "I am a local business. I am for the local people." And, like I said, consumers can then make that informed choice when they're purchasing from you. So that's a really great campaign.

I'd also just like to announce the recent launch of the Small Business Procurement Commitment. One of the things we heard in our department from small businesses, and we talk with small business every day, was that supplying to government was difficult. There were barriers. It was arduous. Maybe, they didn't understand where to look for opportunities. Or, perhaps, they didn't have some of the capabilities or capacity to deliver on some of those contracts. As a result of that commitment, we're helping to support, at last count, 438,000 small businesses across Queensland to win more business with government. A couple of things we'll be doing, actual items that have come out of that, include a commitment to pay our small business suppliers quicker. So, we've committed by July 2020 to pay our small business suppliers within 20 calendar days, and that will hopefully address some of the cashflow issues that small businesses face.

We'll also be measuring a lot of the participation of small business. At this stage, we don't have a clear figure of how many small businesses are supplying to government. So, we want to understand that and address some of the issues that small businesses are facing. As part of that, we want to build the capability of small businesses. So, already, we have a number of programs and services that are available to you to help you do that, and I just wanted to highlight a few of those today.

You can attend Tendering for Government and the Capabilities Statement workshops that you can attend. They're run by the Department of State Development, Manufacture, Infrastructure, and Planning. If you want to find out more about those programs, ask me afterwards. I really encourage you to attend them. They're fantastic if you are looking to tender to government, particularly, if it's your first time doing it.

One of the other things we offer is our really popular Mentoring for Growth program. It’s been running for 16 years and it's a free program available to businesses where we connect you with our pool of over 500 mentors who are business experts, non-government employees, who specialise in a range of subjects. They can help you with any opportunities or challenges that your business is facing. It's a really wonderful program and, if you'd like to hear more about that, we have my colleague, Sarah, at the back there in the pink lanyard, and 2 of our mentors, Petrina and Leanne. And if you stay after this session, after we're done the Q&A, just hang around in here and they'll run a little mini information session about that program just because we've got so many people here today, and they can take you through what it involves. You can ask some questions of our mentors today and register for a future session. And, as I've mentioned, that one's free, so I really encourage that.

Also, check out the Business Queensland website, which is the online portal for all things business, not just procurement-related. On there, we highlight a number of the opportunities for small business, including small business grants and other packages that are available to you. I encourage you to check that out. Come and see us in the pink lanyards. We're all small business. Thank you.

- Lovely. Now, Sandra, if I can ask you to come up and talk a little bit about our indigenous programs.

Sandra: Sure, thanks, Sharon. Thanks. I'd also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in which we live and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present, and emerging. The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships provides whole-of-government leadership in improving outcomes and impacts, from better access, to opportunities for indigenous suppliers, and for indigenous training and employment. Working with indigenous suppliers makes good sense. You've heard Sharon outline a range of policies and initiatives by government and it can all be a little bit confusing sometimes. But engaging with indigenous suppliers can help to meet social imperatives and buy local, so there is connectivity between it all.

Our department leads the implementation of the Queensland Indigenous Procurement Policy, as you can see, which mandates that, by 2022, 3% of the Queensland Government's procurement spend will be with indigenous businesses. I can tell you, in 2017-18, there was about $305 million in procurement from 427 indigenous businesses. So, the sector and the capacity of the sector is growing. As well, under the Building and Construction Training Policy, which some of you would be aware of, major projects in discrete communities are designated as indigenous projects, as well as other projects that are designated through large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Those projects require contractors to meet employment and procurement targets. Last financial year, there was $7 million in procurement in discrete indigenous communities and $9.5 million in indigenous procurement outside of those.

So, how can we help in the supplier side and buyer side of that? Our department has the Black Business Finder, which is a register for indigenous businesses, so that anyone in the supply chain wanting to find indigenous suppliers can utilise that as a tool. But, as well, one of our business tools is our regional network. And here today, from Cairns, we've got Petrina Villaflor. Petrina, if you would. And Jeremy Kingsford. These guys have the local knowledge and the local networks. I'd encourage you to have a chat to them. We also provide referral and support services to indigenous businesses and we have an indigenous business health check that is available. So, again, come and talk to us about that outside and we'll be able to assist with that.

As well, there are strategic partnerships with Construction Skills Queensland and Queensland Resources Council, just to name a couple that we have. And the targets of those is to increase employment and engagement with indigenous suppliers. So, certainly, any indigenous businesses that we have or other businesses that would like to engage indigenous businesses in their supply chain, or for employment and training, please, come and have a chat to us after this. Thank you.

Sharon Bailey: So that just ends the formal part of our presentation.

Watch the Buy Queensland Roadshow supplier presentation.