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5 May, 2020

Local business left out in the cold

Bob Neate the owner of Mareeba Hire claims that Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has procured their equipment from Cairns.

By Phil Brandel

Local business left out in the cold

With all the roadwork’s going on in Mareeba and on the Kennedy Highway, local residents could be mistaken for thinking that there would be a natural flow-on effect for local business owners

Bob Neate the owner of Mareeba Hire was hoping that some of that business would flow down to his business instead, he claims that Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has procured their equipment from Cairns.

He said there was no tender process and that nobody rang him to procure equipment locally

“All the lighting towers and electronic signs at the Byrne Street intersection has all come from Cairns”

“I’ve been here for 33 years, supporting the local economy and my equipment is all up to scratch.”

Also on the way out to Chillagoe and Mt Carbine, Queensland Police have set up roadblocks to stop non-essential travel to the cape.

Mr Neate said the equipment at the roadblocks was also sourced from Cairns and Townsville.

“These have been sourced from large multinational companies who have no offices on the Tablelands,

“Whereas my business and the other hire place in Atherton are the only two privately owned hire companies in Far North Queensland.”

I haven’t received a phone call from anyone. I thought during COVID-19 if equipment was required in an area, it would be sourced from the local area?

Mr Neate also claims that the portable toilets in Mt Carbine are being serviced by a company in Townsville for the Army.

”They come every Thursday from Townsville and service the toilets and then stay the night and then drive back all the way back the next day.

It’s a waste of federal government money; they could have got the toilets locally and kept the money local”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire a local company and get it done cheaper?

Bob has placed four electronic vehicle messaging boards around town with permission from the Mareeba Shire Council, flashing up COVID-19 warnings and advice.

“I’ve got them out there in my yard, doing nothing not being used, so I thought I would support my local community who supports me with COVID-19 messaging”

Mr Neate got permission from the Mareeba Shire Council to place the warning signs around the community at no charge to the council.

I haven’t received a phone call from anyone. I thought during COVID-19 if equipment was required in an area, it would be sourced from the local area?


After questions from The Express, Transport and Main Roads released a written statement:

"In the interest of transparency and to ensure best value for money, we engage suppliers through a strict procurement process in accordance with whole-of-government guidelines.

These guidelines include the option for government to use a supplier listed in one of its existing whole-of-government standing offer arrangements (SOAs).

These arrangements have been established with preferred suppliers to ensure cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

In response to the urgency of the COVID-19 checkpoints, RoadTek sourced a suitable supplier through the statewide SOAs.

This ensured the checkpoint could be equipped and operational as quickly as possible.

Through the SOA, TMR has engaged five local Mareeba-based businesses to assist in upgrading the intersection of Byrnes Street and Rankine Street.

TMR understands the importance of a strong and capable local workforce and engages Mareeba Shire Council for maintenance work on state-controlled roads in the Mareeba Shire.

A new Wet Hire SOA for Far North District has just closed, with offers from 101 local businesses, including some based in Mareeba.

TMR encourages all interested businesses to consider applying for inclusion in SOA when opportunities become available."


The following statement is from a QPS spokesperson: 

"The Queensland Police Service (QPS) recognises the preference to support local businesses during these tough economic times and sourcing equipment locally remains our priority where possible.

Due to the urgency of establishing equipment at the vehicle checkpoints, a tender process could not be completed in this instance.

Police have attempted to source equipment locally, either through contributions from local council, SES and DTMR, or local businesses in the first instance.

The QPS has also utilised the services of local accommodation and food providers where possible. However, where it was not possible, some good and services have been arranged from larger centres."






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