The Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty has said that its move to call for 'alternative' timber jetty tenders to be submitted was to create greater transparency and enhance the process.
The group's classified advertisement was placed in The West Australian newspaper on Saturday, August 10, just a fortnight after the shire advertised the $6 million replacement jetty tender.
The advertisement encouraged tenderers vying for the construction contract to lodge non-conforming tenders with methodology and costings for a timber jetty.
They were also asked to send a copy to the group.
Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty chairperson David Eltringham told the Esperance Express the move was designed to enhance the overall process and to create the transparency it had been lacking.
"It's good to have those backup tenders, should there be unforeseen issues with the conforming tender," he said.
"If anything, it's going to enhance the tender process, not disrupt it.
"It's up to the contractors to do what they want. They have the choice, they can submit the tender through the shire and send it to us off the record.
"We know there are budgetary constraints, so this is a backup for the community. We want these to prove that there are options.
"We're not impinging on the scope of the shire council's project or its process.
"A timber jetty, reconstructed to the 1934 design, will be a huge tourism drawcard."
However, Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said he believed the advertisement breached the Australian Standard Code of Tendering 1994, because the group was not the project principal.
Mr Scott said the shire would be making a disclosure to tenderers to confirm the group was not acting on the shire's behalf and that the deconstruction permit, issued by WA Heritage Minister David Templeman only allowed for tenders complying with the approved design to be considered.
Mr Scott said the group's decision to place the advertisement was 'completely unethical', but insisted it would not stop the tender process.
Shire president Victoria Brown said she held grave concerns for the project if the behaviour continued, with the shire having been given just two years to complete the project.
The move drew criticism on social media, with members of the community pleading for the group to 'stand down'.
Mr Eltringham said he believed a decision on the future of the Tanker Jetty shouldn't be made until after the upcoming local government election.