The Auckland Mayor’s move to review woke procurement policies should prompt other councils – and central government – to do the same.

ACT believes the purpose of government procurement is to deliver quality public services at the best possible value for money. It’s as simple as that.

Today we learned how long-standing Auckland Council contractor Ward Group was ruled ineligible for $20 million worth of demolition contracts. They didn’t simply lose a contract to a competitor. They have been excluded entirely from bidding for Council jobs because they failed to pass a box-ticking exercise. The Council’s 10 evaluators dismissed Ward Group’s track record of service and ruled them out because they apparently lacked ‘social enterprise skills’, and relationships with community and Māori organisations.

This outcome is outrageous. Council and government entities should strive for more choice and competition between contractors, but bureaucratic procurement rules achieve the opposite. Having an exclusive club of favoured contractors will inevitably result in worse value for ratepayers and taxpayers.

ACT congratulates Wayne Brown for his common sense in reviewing these dumb rules, and we encourage the same move for other local councils using box-tick exercises to choose their suppliers.

But under the previous government, the rot of so-called ‘progressive procurement’ reached central government. Willie Jackson instructed almost 150 government agencies to increase the diversity of their suppliers, with a target of eight percent of all government contracts being awarded to ‘Māori businesses’.

When we should be enabling competition and productivity, we’re instead telling builders and computer programmers to scour their family tree to figure out if they can qualify as a Māori business. That’s absurd.

Right now the Government is busy completing its 100-day plan. But when it’s done, it should commit to stripping bureaucratic, woke BS from government procurement rules in the next 100 days.

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