The Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty may have breached national tendering standards when it called for 'alternative' timber jetty replacement tenders to the 1934 design, according to the Shire of Esperance.
It is understood the classified advertisement was placed by the group on Saturday, August 10, in The West Australian newspaper.
The advertisement encouraged tenderers vying for the construction of the Esperance Tanker Jetty replacement to lodge non-conforming tenders as 'alternative' and to forward a copy to the Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty in confidence.
The group stated that the non-conforming tenders would need to outline methodology and costings for a new timber jetty to the original design.
Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said the shire were aware of the advertisement and would be making a disclosure to tenderers to ensure the advertisement did not have an impact on the tender process.
The clarification will address that the Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty is not acting on the shire's behalf and that a key element of the section 64 permit, issued by WA Heritage Minister David Templeman, is that only tenders complying with the design approved by the state's Heritage Council can be considered.
"In all honesty, the Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty are not the project principal, so it is completely unethical for them to have placed that ad," he said.
"In actual fact, in requesting that tenders be sent to them, they've breached the Australian standards for tendering.
"It's not going to stop the tender process and it's obvious that they're not aware of the regulations around this.
"I think everyone would like to see the 1934 design.
"It is not possible under the section 64 permit, it is not possible."
Shire president Victoria Brown agreed and said she held grave concerns for the project if the behaviour continued.
"It is unethical and it could severely damage the process," she said.
"This may become an election issue and my biggest concern is for our community is that we have got two years to complete this project, that was stipulated under the Building Better Regions Funding and the section 64 permit.
"Two years is not a long time to deliver a jetty.
"It's very, very dangerous and the people who could miss out are our community.
"I hold grave concerns for the community getting a jetty at all if this sort of behaviour continues."
The tender to build the $6 million Replacement Jetty was advertised on July 27 and will officially close on September 2.
As one of the longest purpose-built fishing jetties in the state, the tender is expected to draw national interest.
The Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty could not be reached for comment.
More to come.