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Public spending must boost local jobs and industry

Unions NSW 2 mins read
The NSW Government can significantly boost local jobs and industry by directing at least half its spend on major contracts to local firms, Unions NSW will argue at a parliamentary inquiry today.

The peak body, representing more than 600,000 union members, will also call for local suppliers to enjoy a 30 per cent weighting when they bid for contracts if they can demonstrate best practice labour standards and ethical supply chains.

Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Morey, will present evidence demonstrating how offshoring major contracts has resulted in higher costs, lower quality, delays, and significant opportunity costs. For example if just four of six major transport infrastructure projects reviewed  had been completed onshore, it would have created 1,746 direct and 2,445 indirect jobs.

"For too long, successive governments have prioritised short-term financial savings over long-term benefits such as creating solid jobs, deep skill development, and strong industry," Morey said. "It's time to recognise the broader economic and social value of fostering local production.

"As the largest employer in the southern hemisphere, the NSW Government has a responsibility to create safe and healthy workplaces, maintain secure jobs, and ensure workers are paid appropriately. This responsibility extends to the countless workers employed indirectly through government procurement contracts."

Unions NSW will propose the development of a NSW Secure Local Jobs Code, modelled after a similar initiative in the ACT. This code would require companies tendering for certain government contracts to obtain certification demonstrating compliance with labour rights and standards. Unions also seek the establishment of an independent statutory body responsible for auditing, compliance, and enforcement of the state's procurement strategy.

“It’s time to level the playing field in procurement. Companies who do the right thing by employees are too regularly outbid by companies paying the bare minimum or even less. We need a procurement policy that encourages investment, not a race to the bottom.

“There’s little point having great policies if they’re not enforced. We need a dedicated body with real teeth to ensure companies are living up to their commitments,” Morey said.

Other recommendations to be presented at the inquiry include:
- Requiring economic and financial analysis from NSW Treasury for providing services in-house as a comparison to private supplier tenders.
- Publishing analysis of procurement contracts valued at $1 billion or more, with mandatory consideration of wider public good and economic benefits.
- Developing a range of compliance and enforcement measures for suppliers who fail to meet tender conditions.
- Granting registered trade unions standing to bring complaints or evidence of non-compliance for investigation.

Unions NSW is also pushing the adoption of the "secure local jobs code" at the forthcoming NSW Labor Party conference.

Contact: Mark Morey 0425 231 812 or Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032

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