Local Businesses Benefit from the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre Redevelopment

The $41 million Gold Coast Aquatic Centre redevelopment project has provided a boost to the local economy, with the majority of work awarded to contractors in South East Queensland and the Gold Coast regions.

Watpac has awarded more than 90 per cent of its work packages to South East Queensland businesses by utilising the Industry Capability Network (ICN) Gateway, which is run by the Federal Government, and through working with ICN Queensland and the Queensland Government.

The project has provided a boost to the economy and provided local businesses with the opportunity to grow and gain invaluable experience working with a leading construction contractor on a prominent Managing Contractor project.

The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre

Established in Brisbane in 1983, Watpac (ASX: WTP) is a listed national construction, mining services and property development company that employs more than 1,350 people throughout Australia.

Through Watpac’s delivery of many varied and complex sporting infrastructure projects, Watpac has achieved a competitive advantage in the market place through its diversified business strategy that combines the strength of its national reach and balance sheet with the depth of its local expertise and networks.

In late 2012 Watpac was awarded a major tender with the Queensland Government for the redevelopment of the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre – the first infrastructure package for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

This complex project involved the refurbishment of the existing eight lane 50 metre pool, 25 metre and dive pools with additions to the development. This included a new 10 lane 50 metre competition pool, elevated spectator concourses with seating for 1,000 patrons, new change room and toilet facilities plus function rooms, event and administration facilities, a gymnasium and creche.

To be completed in time to host the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, Watpac sought to engage 74 suppliers to work on the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre redevelopment to ensure the project was completed efficiently and delivered on time.

In addition to this, Watpac also specifically planned to engage as many local suppliers as possible to work on the redevelopment. This initiative aimed to increase job opportunities in the Gold Coast region and to help boost the local economy. 

Utilising ICN Gateway

In order to ensure Watpac was able to provide full, fair and reasonable opportunity for local suppliers to tender for the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre redevelopment project, the Queensland Government introduced Watpac to the ICN Queensland team assigned to the project in January 2013.

Over two months, Watpac worked with the Queensland Government to develop specific selection criteria that prospective suppliers were required to meet in order to be considered for some of the 74 trade packages that Watpac would tender.

The criteria ranged from technical and financial capacity through to safety and industrial track record. This initiative enhanced Watpac’s procurement process so that it could quickly identify the most suitable companies for each trade package.

Businesses wishing to express interest in working on the project were provided with clear selection criteria. This enabled Watpac to determine the most appropriate applicants to be selected for the next stage of the tendering process.

Watpac utilised the ICN Gateway to identify potential new suppliers for the redevelopment. ICN Gateway is a free, online project portal that enables project contractors and potential suppliers to list work packages and to register their interest against them. This opportunity provided access to a database of more than 60,000 suppliers and 100 previous projects.

More than 400 businesses put forward expressions of interest through the program over a two month period, which Watpac then shortlisted to suit the capability and diversity available for the work packages required.

Watpac advised that working with the team at ICN has proven to be beneficial to the project throughout the procurement process by connecting Watpac to potential suppliers that it may not have been aware of or otherwise considered.

Boosting the local economy

Initial research suggested that only a small number of trade packages were likely to be applicable to Gold Coast companies. With this in mind, Watpac placed a significant focus on actively engaging local suppliers during its procurement process for the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre redevelopment.

Through the use of ICN Gateway, 15 Gold Coast businesses were engaged to work on the project with a further 11 based throughout other regions across South East Queensland.  

The database introduced Watpac to smaller, local businesses which under normal circumstances may not otherwise be found and enabled Watpac to provide these firms with a greater opportunity to expand their knowledge, refine their skills and establish a stronger presence in their respective industries.

Watpac was happy to award work packages to smaller, Gold Coast based suppliers that met the selection criteria. It provided those selected with the opportunity they needed in order to be able to grow whilst also ensuring that revenue and jobs created from the project, remained as much as possible in the local region.

More than 90 per cent of work packages for the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre were awarded to South East Queensland businesses. Watpac believe this to be a good outcome for the region, particularly when it is considered that many employees in South East Queensland firms live on the Gold Coast. 

Awarding of trades to some interstate firms was necessary due to the nature and technical difficulty of some of the work which required specialised services that were not readily available in the local area.


Working in partnership with the ICN Gateway and the Queensland Government proved to be very positive with a good mix of thoughts between private and government entities. These collaborative ideas were implemented quickly and efficiently in a manner that met the projects core objectives and that ensured transparency should any issues have arisen from firms that were unsuccessful.