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Designers want a look inside

FIRST it was the graphic designers now we see it in the world of interior design – complaints from local industry that they don’t get a fair go when it comes to big State Government contracts.

It is a perennial issue in a number of industries but just where does Government have to draw the line between being parochial and being protectionist?

One could argue that every contract, even those issued by Govern-ments, should be done on a basis of merit. The best tender wins the work.

While such a system should provide the best returns to the Govern-ment and, ultimately, the taxpayer, the truth of the matter is that it rarely does.

It is often slick marketing which wins the day in such tenders: having the apparatus to lobby effectively, produce professional tender documents and show a history of wonderful high-profile work.

That does not necessarily mean that the WA contract will get the same time and effort as some national banks when the contract is won. We are a long way away, no matter what the electronic communication of the day.

On top of that, those very marketing costs have to be factored into the price. And work conducted in the east coast must draw east coast labour rates.

If all that is factored into the tender, then somewhere some costs must be stripped out and savings made to meet the cut.

All this often occurs when local industry argues that a perfectly viable alternative exists within WA.

Obviously, being a good designer doesn’t mean you can afford to pay a marketing person to promote your services in a small market like Perth.

Or, others argue, there is someone who could be as good given half the chance to gain the experience needed.

However, this is a fine balancing act for Government. Like the rest of us, bureaucrats are there to get a job done, not hold the hand of some contractor who wants a hand in life.

Government employees are accountable to us, and the last thing they want is to expend energy and funds on a job which turns sour and needs surgery at the end because the contractor was not up to it.

There is no easy answer to all this, but if Governments are going to create Buy Local policies they should do more than pay lip service to it.

Time to get city’s heart beating

NEWS that the back lanes of Perth could be used for retail purposes should be welcomed by all.

The more life we see in our city centre the better.

For too long we have allowed space to form boundaries in our communities.

Beginning with the great empty canyon of St Georges Terrace and moving right out to suburbia, there is a lot of emptiness which many people mistake for breathing space.

It is time that was balanced and there is no better place to start than the CBD.

Filling the back lanes with hidden delights will provide the central city with something that few suburban shopping centres can offer.

It is a European offering to follow the advent of the outdoor cafes which have added life to the once sterile streets of Perth.

Who knows, next we’ll find a way to link the city and Northbridge, so we won’t have to constantly point tourists lost in the dead heart of the business district towards Perth’s entertainment zone.

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