Published by The Border Watch
By Raquel Mustillo
State Government moves to outsource maintenance
SIX full-time positions at Mount Gambier’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) office could be axed next year as the State Government moves to privatise the management of maintenance at government facilities.
Facilities Services - a government contractor providing planned and unplanned maintenance, minor works, small construction works and property-related services for public buildings - will be outsourced from late 2021.
The facilities management arrangements is overseen by DPTI and provides services for the region’s health, corrections, education and police assets.
As well as grounds and waste management, Facilities Services also provides cleaning, hygiene and security services, energy, water and waste services and hazardous materials management.
In Mount Gambier, six full-time positions and contractors employed by the service could be lost by December 2021.
A Transport Department spokesperson said under the new model, suitably qualified sub-contractors will be responsible for facilities management and project work and local sub-contractors will continue to be used.
“DPTI have recently started a market sounding process, following which a procurement process with a lengthy transition period will occur,” the spokesperson said.
“Importantly, existing arrangements, including the provision of service under the current Across Government Facilities Management Arrangements will remain in place until late 2021.
“Until this process has sufficiently progressed, we are unable to determine what impact this will have on impacted DPTI employees.
“DPTI is committed to a genuine and open consultation process in accordance with the provisions of the relevant industrial instruments, including Enterprise Agreements.”
However, the state’s peak public sector union said the decision to privatise the service was a “slap in the face to small businesses in regional areas”.
Public Service Association general secretary Nev Kitchin claimed the contact will go to a large multinational organisation, resulting in significant losses for local contractors.
“When multinationals take over government managed c o ntracts they seek to maximise profits for themselves, often by using their own workers to the exclusion of local contractors,” he said.
“The State Liberal Government says they support regional communities, yet here they are turning their backs on country people when they need more support, not less.
“The public are not in favour of privatisating public services, especially when it means local jobs will be lost and costs will go up.
“That’s exactly what will happen in regional areas if government facility maintenance work is sold off.”
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said the decision would impact the region particularly hard, with smaller contractors, tradespeople and small business operators unable to compete with larger statewide companies.
Mr Bell said larger organisations would “undercut costs to land contracts”.
“Privatisation may mean greater efficiency and competition but it comes at a cost and that’s local jobs and decisions being taken away from the regions they affect,” he said.
“Facing job losses or uncertainty at this current time is disconcerting for anyone and there are six full-time jobs at stake in our local office and many more around the regions.
“From a pool of 8000 contractors DPTI currently uses, this may mean the number will shrink down dramatically to just those bigger operators and those smaller operators and family businesses will miss out.
“Before the last state election, there was a promise by the Liberals that privatisation was not on the agenda.
“That’s why this announcement seems to have flown under the radar.”