Illawarra construction firms losing to outsiders: Watson

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson has criticised the state government for not giving Illawarra construction firms a "look-in" for major health infrastructure projects.

Ms Watson has demanded NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner explain why an Illawarra firm was not awarded the $6.7 million tender for the ambulatory care unit project at Shellharbour Hospital.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward announced last month that the successful tender had been awarded to Botany-based company Fugen Constructions.

"Surely the state government should be prioritising local Illawarra-based construction companies for local infrastructure work?" Ms Watson said.

"I've asked the minister to provide me with information on any local companies which tendered for this work and, if so, why they weren't selected.

"I've also asked the minister to indicate what procedures are in place to ensure construction firms from the Illawarra are encouraged to tender for health projects in the Illawarra.

"Shellharbour Hospital's future expansion is likely to be worth up to $300 million.

"I'm not going to sit by and watch multimillion-dollar contracts awarded to construction companies from outside of the Illawarra region."

Ms Skinner accused Ms Watson of "playing politics".

"Health Infrastructure has a proven, respected record when it comes to delivering hospital upgrade projects," Ms Skinner said.

"The NSW government is rebuilding the state's health system after 16 years of Labor neglect and the flow-on benefits for local communities are huge.

"When I visit hospital redevelopment sites in regional and rural areas, I'm always pleased to see the number of local subcontractors engaged in these projects."

Mr Ward said that while he would like to see local construction firms used where possible, the government needed to "achieve value for money for the taxpayer".

A Health Infrastructure spokesperson said: "Fugen has a proven track record delivering projects for Health Infrastructure and has undertaken other health projects for the private sector in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region."

"Health Infrastructure will ensure that local industry participation is taken into account when inviting subcontractors to tender and throughout the evaluation process."

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