WA aims to establish Australian-first debarment regime

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday June 10, 2020


The Western Australian government is seeking the power to debar dodgy suppliers as part of a broader plan to protect and improve public procurement.

If passed, the proposal would see WA become the first Australian jurisdiction to have a debarment regime that applies to all types of procurement.

The regime would lessen the risk of the state government procuring from a supplier that engages in unlawful or unethical behaviour, according to the draft document.

The mechanism would be supported by the Procurement Bill 2020, which was introduced to state parliament last month.

Finance minister Ben Wyatt said the proposal was part of a broader state government initiative to reform procurement practices.

“Unlawful business behaviour by suppliers undermines fair competition, is a barrier to economic growth and increases the cost and risk of doing business,” he said.

“We have an obligation to protect and safeguard the use and expenditure of public funds and to maintain public confidence in relation to our contracting.”

Department CEOs would be responsible for determining whether a debarment is in the public interest, but suppliers would be allowed a right of response and an independent review of any decision.

Causes for debarment would include bribery, corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and more. Dodgy suppliers would be listed on a public register, and could be barred for up to five years.

READ MORE: Committee overseeing WA’s corruption watchdog calls for review of training for public servants, sector-wide reform

Last month the WA Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission called for widespread reforms — including changes to public sector procurement — after the state faced several major cases of corruption.

Wyatt has urged industry and the public to provide written feedback on the draft debarment regime by July 27.

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