Originally a British colony (since 1788), Australia was established as a Commonwealth in 1901. The Australian Constitution established a federal government, under which powers are distributed between the Commonwealth (the federal level of government) and the states. Australia is governed by a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as Head of State who is represented in Australia by the Governor-General. The Prime Minister is the head of Government and leader of the party or coalition holding the majority of seats in the Federal Parliament won via elections held every four years.
Levels of Government
Australia has three levels of government with defined law-making powers. Each level of government has its own responsibilities which may overlap in some cases however it is well developed and consistent.
The Australian Government, referred to as the Commonwealth or the federal government, has a written constitution which defines its responsibilities. The Commonwealth passes laws which affect the whole country. These include legislation related to the treasury, defence, foreign relations & international trade, quarantine and immigration & citizenship. The Federal Government is primarily based in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Australian Commonwealth Government
State Governments are self-governing, dividing responsibilities with the Federal Government. There are six state parliaments and two self-governing territory parliaments. State Governments operate under their own Westminster-based form of government and pass legislation with responsibility for education & schools, housing, public transport & main roads & railway, electricity, water and gas supply, health, consumer affairs, justice & law enforcement.
Local Governments - referred to as city, shire, town or municipal councils - look after the particular needs of a city or a regional community. Local government responsibilities include: local road maintenance, building & development planning regulations & approvals, garbage/waste collection & recycling and other local issues such as recreation and sporting facilities. There are over 560 local councils across Australia. State local government directories provide links to local councils:
- New South Wales local government directory
- Northern Territory local council information
- Queensland local government directory
- South Australia local council information
- Tasmania local government directory
- Victoria local council information
- Western Australia local government directory
Government Grants & Incentives
Grants and funding programs are available from Australian, state & territory and local governments. The Australian Government's GrantFinder portal provides information on a wide variety of grants. All available federal, state and territory government grant information can be accessed for free through official government websites. Government sites will always have a .gov.au extension and access to grant information is always free of charge. Grants are awarded on merit (sometimes competitively) based on specific criteria which will be clearly shown on the Government sites.
Once a grant is found that is suitable, contact can be made to the administering agency or their (.gov.au) website. Third-party business advisors can assist in the application or grant writing process and will charge either a flat fee or a percentage of the grant amount for this service.
Incentives may also be provided by state governments when significant new business investment and/or employment is involved. The investment attraction or economic development department of the relevant state/local government can provide information on these incentives. These incentives may be provided when the investment is footloose, involves significant new job creation and/or investment and is often negotiated on a case by case basis.
Federal, State and Local Governments tender for the supply of goods and services. Government contracts information
State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) & Public Companies
Australia has privatised most State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and continues to privatise state-owned assets such as electricity generation, transmission, distribution & retailing. Private enterprises generally compete fairly with public enterprises and are not disadvantaged or discriminated against.
All government information and websites across all levels of Government can be found at www.gov.au. Official Government websites in Australia use the "gov.au" extension in their URL.
Finding Government Tenders and Engaging with Government
The Australian federal, state and local governments make thousands of tender requests every year to the private sector to supply goods and services. Each level of government has its own responsibilities which may overlap in some cases however it is well developed and consistent. For example, the Federal Government is responsible for defence and the State Governments are primarily responsible for health, education and local transport. Government in Australia.
The different levels of government agencies advertise tenders through their respective government tendering websites. Firms may register as a supplier and many of these websites operate an alert service. Government websites provide information free of charge and will always have a .gov.au extension.
The federal government publishes opportunities, annual procurement plans, multi-use lists and contracts.
AusTender is the centralised publication of Australian Government business opportunities, procurement, multi-use lists and awarded contract information.
State Governments & Territories
State Governments across Australia manage separate tendering and procurement systems. It is generally a centralised function within the relevent Department of Finance that sets the broad guidelines, procedures and centralised tending and procurement mechanisms. That being said, it is the specific relevent Departments that make decisions on the appointment of suppliers and successful tenders.
- Australian Capital Territory: ACT Shared Services Procurement - The ACT Government invites businesses to tender for infrastructure projects and goods and services across the Australian Capital Territory and register for personalised email notifications.
- New South Wales: NSW eTendering - NSW's website for information about business opportunities with/for NSW Government agencies. NSW ProcurePoint is the start point for registering for Prequalification Schemes.
- Northern Territory: NT's QTOL is the NT's Quotation and Tenders and supplier registration can be found here QTOL Registration. NT.Gov.Au's Bidding for Government Contracts is as good a starting point as any for understanding the process of qualifying for providing services to the NT government.
- Queensland: QTenders - Queensland Government tender opportunities & registration for email notifications. The Government Information Technology Contracting (GITC) site is the Queensland Supplier Accreditation starting point for ICT suppliers but even it has a pre-requisite step which is industry accreditation via CCIQ QAssure.
- South Australia: SA Tenders & Contracts - Publicly-available bidding opportunities within the South Australian Government and registration for email notifications. SA Procurement Services Panel is the access point for Prequalification schemes in SA.
- Tasmania: TAS Government Tenders - The Tasmanian Government's publically-accessible procurement opportunities for businesses; supplier registration is not compulsory but registered user benefit from other features, such as personalised email notifications.
- Victoria: Tenders VIC - Victorian Government tendering & e-notification website. The Victorian Government Purchasing Board is the start point for understanding how to secure government business with the state.
- Western Australia: Tenders WA - Western Australia Government public sector tenders & contract information and registration for email notifications.
Other tender & procurement websites
The Industry Capability Network (ICN) - is a partially government-funded business network that introduces Australian companies to projects. ICN offers a new business source for suppliers and a search for project managers.
The importance of building relationships with Government
Individual agencies and branches within Government make decisions on suppliers. Therefore, in addition to tender registration and prequalification (if applicable), it is imperative to build relationships with relevant government buyers. Government may, at times, seek limited quotes from known suppliers, directly negotiate with a single supplier or accept proposals for non-tendered projects. It is therefore important to build relationships to raise awareness and profile your capabilities to deliver on a government contract.
This requires identification of relevent government departments and agencies at Federal, State and local levels of Government. Government in Australia
There are numerous ways to engage with government. Industry or government-focused conferences, forums or events are important as government are regular attendees at industry events and forums to gain information and are also willing to share insights into their activities and challenges. Events in Australia.
Preparing to respond to a Government Tender
For a foreign entity, it is important to be aware of all regulatory requirements, conditions, pre-qualifications, licences, registrations etc that you might need to supply to government and have these in place. Registrations and licences may take longer than expected particularly if a local entity, an ABN for an foreign-owned entity or a local bank account is required to be set up. As such, it is recommended that professional advice be sought early in the process. Governments may take a long time to make decisions given their requirement to comply with internal procurement procedures and approvals however, once this has been completed, things may then move quickly.
Government and innovation
Governments everywhere are grappling with how they evolve, regulate and deliver services in a time of significant digital change, innovation and disruption. These changes impact almost all areas of government from transport, to health, to education and to even how the government procures and engages with suppliers.
It has never been a better time to engage and build relationships with Governments as they seek to respond to market dynamics and evolve their services and delivery models. Governments are spending considerable resources to understand and position services and regulation to better meet the changing enviornment and are increasingly open and perceptive to information, insights and learnings to support these changes.
Gaining an understanding of the complexities and nuances of the problems Governments are seeking to solve - and the issues that they are grappling with - is imperative. It will allow for the development of relationships through the provision of information and insights and the ability to put forward solution-oriented capabilities and services that may involve partnering or collaborating with other companies or organisations.
Government agencies are also creating opportunities to collaborate to innovate. This includes new mechanisms to accept proposals, innovation competitions and challenges, sandbox enviornments, trials and alternative funding options. Examples of this include the Innovation NSW program and the Public Sector Innovation Fund in Victoria.
There are a number of for-profit commercial websites that offer Invitation to Tender (ITT) searching, alerts, consulting and support services. These sites will not be official .gov.au sites.