The upcoming Queensland election is likely to be a battle over jobs, with the opposition launching a buy local procurement policy just weeks after the government rolled out its own.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls denied it was a copycat move and said the LNP’s proposal was vastly different to that introduced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on September 1.
“It’s a real policy that will deliver real benefits,” he said at the announcement on Sunday.
“Labor’s policy puts at risk Queensland jobs.”
But government minister and spokesman Mick de Brenni said Mr Nicholls’ policy was a joke and would force local businesses into a “race to the bottom” for the lowest price.
“It’s the same old, tired approach to procurement that Tim Nicholls and Campbell Newman had when they were last in government,” he said on Sunday.
“Our buy Queensland policy delivers a preference for Queensland businesses.”
If elected at the next state election, the LNP will give local businesses with 200 staff or less, the opportunity to match the price for government projects valued at under $100 million.
The companies will be required to have their headquarters in Queensland in order to be considered.
Mr Nicholls said local businesses would still have to adhere to the “same quality and service standards” but the price match would enable them to get a look-in for jobs they might otherwise not be able to compete for.
The LNP leader said its policy would generate jobs but also wouldn’t start a “phoney trade war with New Zealand” like the government’s had.
Mr Nicholls said he would work with the federal government to ensure local businesses had an opportunity to bid on projects valued at more than $100m, while not damaging free trade agreements with other countries.
Ms Palaszczuk announced the government’s buy Queensland procurement policy in August ahead of its implementation on September 1.
Local businesses located within a 125km radius of a project now receive a weighting of up to 30 per cent.
Ms Palaszczuk said at the time of the announcement the Australian-first initiative was “unashamedly a ‘Buy Queensland’ one”.
“Wherever possible, one regional and one Queensland supplier will be invited to quote or tender for every procurement opportunity offered,” she said.
“Preference must be given to local subbies and manufacturers on significant infrastructure projects of $100 million or more.”
Mr Nicholls also vowed to cut red tape by 20 per cent, but Mr de Brenni said such a move would remove protections for local business owners.