Ben Wyatt says the year one results were pleasing. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Aboriginal businesses win $167m in govt work

Thursday, 12 December, 2019 - 15:27

The state government awarded 4.77 per cent of its contracts to Aboriginal businesses in the 2018-19 financial year, substantially exceeding its own target, although the contribution of government agencies was highly variable.

According to data compiled by the Department of Finance, 197 contracts worth $167 million were awarded by 33 government agencies to 92 Aboriginal businesses, 99 per cent of which were from WA.

However, while the number of contracts awarded to Aboriginal businesses has significantly increased from previous years, 36 government agencies did not meet the target and the monetary value of the contracts was skewed by a large $97 million contract awarded to Kimberley Renal Services.

The Aboriginal Procurement Policy, which was introduced in July 2018, requires WA government agencies to award a minimum of one per cent of contracts to registered Aboriginal businesses in the first year, increasing by a further one per cent in each of the next two years until 2020-21.

In the first year, a significant number of the contracts were in the construction, building and maintenance sectors.

Construction and maintenance company GBSC Yurra, the fourth largest indigenous contractor with 149 staff as ranked by BNiQ, won 15 state government contracts including a $21.3 million contract for electrical testing services from the Department of Finance.

Broome-based Kullarri Building was awarded ten contracts, the largest being a $2.4 million contract for the demolition and construction of six houses with the Department of Communities.

The largest contract, worth $97 million, was awarded by the WA Country Health Service to Kimberley Renal Services, owned by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services which is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, for renal dialysis services at Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Broome and Kununurra.

Other Aboriginal businesses receiving a number of state government contracts in the year to June 30 2019 include maintenance, repair and capital works company Kimberley Regional Service Providers, residential and commercial builders H&M Tracey Construction and construction and maintenance company MGC Building & Maintenance.

The Department of Communities awarded the most contracts overall, followed by the Department of Education and the WA Country Health Service.

The report from the Department of Finance acknowledged the 36 departments which did not meet the target and said it would continue to support them to undertake effective planning and research activities to increase Aboriginal business contracting and meet the target in subsequent years. 

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said the year one results were pleasing and set up the government well for continued growth in the Aboriginal business sector.

“The results highlight the breadth of the Aboriginal business community across our great state,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Our government will continue to support Aboriginal businesses and I am confident the policy will deliver further success in years two and three.”