Water suppliers and utilities unite

Thursday, 12 July, 2012

The ‘Australian Water Supplier Compact’ (the compact) was launched in April by the Hon Greg Combet AM MP Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Minister for Industry and Innovation. The purpose of the compact is to bring together local suppliers and urban utilities to maximise benefits for the Australian water industry, the economy and for the environment.The compact records the expression of commitment by Australia’s urban water utilities, represented by the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) and Australian companies that supply into the water sector, represented by waterAustralia and the Water Supplier Advocate.

“A groundbreaking agreement for the Australian water industry” were the words chosen by Graham Dooley to describe the Water Supplier Compact launched by Industry & Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.

Graham Dooley is the Chairman of waterAustralia, an emerging force in the water sector representing suppliers of products, services and technology into both local and international markets. The Water Supplier Compact has been negotiated and agreed with the Water Services Association of Australia, representing the urban water utilities responsible for around $10.3 billion in capital and operational expenditure annually. The water utilities are the major customer group of water industry suppliers.

The compact is the first of its kind arising under the government’s ‘Buy Australian at Home and Abroad’ and the related Supplier Advocate program. It is supported by the states and government agencies such as Austrade and Enterprise Connect. The Water Supplier Advocate, Bob Herbert, played an important role in its negotiation.

Dooley said this is a true demonstration of industry leadership. “It brings together the major parties in the water industry with a shared goal to maximise opportunities for Australian suppliers and to build a capable, disciplined, supply chain to the advantage of their major customer base, the water utilities.”

Adam Lovell, the Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia, welcomed the compact. He said, “In these uncertain economic times, we are delighted to partner with waterAustralia to build stronger relationships with Australian manufacturing and suppliers. Small suppliers and vendors can find it difficult to penetrate the marketplace for water utilities. Standards, specifications and service requirements do vary from utility to utility, depending on region, size and need.

“This agreement means that Australian suppliers and water utilities can work more effectively together to build a capable, disciplined, supply chain.”

The CEO of waterAustralia, Les Targ, is confident that the compact will bring Australian buyers and sellers of water-related technology and services more closely together. “The compact agreement, though not legally binding, has the support of the Industry Capability Network that will work with the parties to fulfil their dual role of identifying capable suppliers and matching them to the opportunities they may pursue on a full, fair and reasonable basis,” Targ said.

“Both suppliers and their customers will be the beneficiary of the many initiatives that can be progressed under the compact. It is a big step forward in breaking down barriers to supply whether real or perceived.”

Lovell added, “Providing coordinated access and timely notice of upcoming water utility tenders is one way to help suppliers and vendors collaborate and provide innovative solutions for projects.”

The compact agenda will be progressed by the leadership of waterAustralia and WSAA. The agenda embraces challenging issues such as mitigating risk, achieving greater consistency among the utilities in their prequalification requirements, harmonising regulation, better evaluation of local technologies and collaboration in research, training and skill development among others. Dooley summarised his enthusiasm for the compact by saying: “In all my experience there has never been a better opportunity for the customers and suppliers to work together for the benefit of the industry, the environment and the Australian economy. This is truly groundbreaking and a demonstration of the goodwill and commitment that the compact parties share.”

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