How to get on the government’s construction work register in Australia

28 October 2020
Rebecca Hunt

So you’re keen to get on the government’s construction books? It’s a pretty popular choice, particularly as construction is often used as a lever to boost the economy.

Most of the time it’s head contractors who take on the big government commercial construction projects. Through the tender process they’ll engage with subbies and suppliers to help get an idea of how much it’s all going to cost.

Usually through the construction tender process, you, as a subbie, may be required to submit a construction quote to the Head Contractor. However, you can still get on the government’s radar as a subbie directly. 

Government commercial construction jobs can be a challenge to win, but once you’ve got the experience and foot in the door (formally through their processes too) you’ll be loving your job even more!

We’ll take you through some of the state level registers and the federal government to help you get that foot in the door. 

Australian Federal Government

First cab off the rank is the Australian suppliers register. This register promotes different products and services to buyers from overseas through the Austrade website. 

Applying for the Austrade register itself is relatively straight forward for the first touch point. 

The federal government’s criteria is quite specific. Before you apply, ask yourself the below. 

  • Do I have an Australian Business Number (ABN)?
  • Is Australia my main place of business?
  • Are management committed to becoming an exporter and willing to develop our exportation business?
  • Do we have the financial resources or ability to source specifically for expiration? 
  • Do we have the budget to potentially travel to international markets?
  • Do we have a growth strategy?
  • Do we have marketing materials such as a website, and the ability to customise for markets?
  • Do we have the capacity to build supply capability?

If you think you tick all of these boxes and are confident, we recommend applying to the Australian Suppliers Directory

Once you’ve applied, your application will be reviewed and someone will likely be in touch to gather more information to help them make a decision.

Victoria Government

The Victorian Government has a Construction Supplier Register for commercial construction projects. The Constructions Supplier Register is a pre-qualification scheme, open to anyone who offers construction work and/or services. If you want government jobs, you need to be on this register!

Each supplier on the register has been classified as having the necessary skills and expertise, as well as financial capabilities and management systems needed to be involved in a Victorian Government construction project. 

In Victoria, there are two main categories:

  • Suppliers of construction work – builders
  • Suppliers of construction related services – engineers, architects etc.

There is also now a third category to allow smaller businesses to get in the door. This category is for low value works of under $500,000 including GST. 

The application process can be lengthy, but luckily the Victorian Government has given you pretty much everything you could possibly need to know before applying, including things like eligibility criteria. 

You can check out the pre-application process here.

Queensland Government

The Queensland Government has a few different methods of procurement. 

They use several methods such as:

  • Ad hoc purchasing
  • Open tender
  • Selective tender
  • Limited tender
  • List of preferred suppliers
  • Standing offer arrangements (SOAs).

We won’t go through all of these, but you can check them out on the Business Queensland website. 

It’s a little more difficult to track down the exact information you want on the Queensland Government website (it’s the government though, so are we surprised?). Your first bet is to check out the supply to Queensland Government page.

Usually there will be some form of tender process to complete to get the bigger jobs. You can also check out the supplying for buying categories and make sure you fulfil all the ethical requirements for supplying to the government before you take any further steps.

Once you’ve got all the information you need through exploration of their site, we recommend applying to the Queensland Government Supplier list.

New South Wales Government

In NSW, their process is a little more laid out in terms of what they expect. 

The NSW Government have five procurement objectives:

  • Value for money
  • Promoting competition
  • Easy to do business
  • Innovation
  • Economic development, social outcomes and sustainability.

These objectives allow a diverse range of suppliers to get in front of the government regardless of their size. 

There are also particular obligations and responsibilities that you need to meet to become a supplier (as you would expect).

The NSW Government purchases a range of contracts and schemes either as a whole-of-government or agency-specific. 

They also look at supporting small to medium businesses, including regional businesses. There’s also a focus on buying from Aboriginal business and Australian disability enterprises as well to ensure equal opportunity. 

Before you sign up, it’s worth checking out the information the NSW Government has on supplying to government

To get on the supplier list, you need to sign up here.  Once you’re on the supplier list, anyone will be able to search you on the supplier list, which is accessible to the public as well. 

Western Australia Government

The Western Australia Government makes purchases a few different ways:

  • Direct purchase
  • Verbal quotation
  • Written quotation
  • Open tender.

The method is usually selected by the particular agency looking to source the supplier. There are a few different rules to each method of purchase, for example, verbal quotes can be requested for works up to $50,000 including GST.

Due to the high Aboriginal and Indignous population in WA, the Western Australia Government

has a big focus on working with Aboriginal business, as well as businesses who employ Aboriginal and Indigenous workers. 

Businesses can supply either goods and services, community services and works-related services to the Western Australia Government. 

The Western Australia Government has put a short, brief guide together for suppliers who wish to supply goods and services here.

The go-to point if you wish to get in front of them is to register your business as a supplier through Tenders WA. Tenders WA is used to source all suppliers for government works. 

Occasionally they may use newspapers and websites, however your best bet is to get yourself onto Tenders WA.

Hopefully these insights and resources help you to figure out next steps. It can be a bit daunting navigating the government sites when it comes to procurement so have a dig and don’t hesitate to reach out to them when you have queries. 

Don’t forget to check out our other articles as well. It can’t hurt to brush up on how to choose construction tenders and how to bid on commercial construction tenders either!