Job cuts foreshadowed with public service privatisation

Wednesday July 15, 2020

Published by The Border Watch 

By Raquel Mustillo

THE State Government cannot guarantee contractors currently employed to provide services for public services such as schools and public housing will keep the work they have had before under new privatisation plans, a senior minister says.

Six full-time positions at Mount Gambier’s Planning, Transport and Infrastructure Department (DPTI) office are likely to be axed next year as the government moves to outsource the management of maintenance at government facilities.

Parliamentarians have raised concerns about the impact on both DPTI employees who are currently employed to manage the service and local sub-contractors and tradespeople who provide services for the region’s health, corrections, education and police assets.

In a recent sitting of parliament, Planning, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephan Knoll told the chamber the government could not guarantee every single contractor was going to keep the work they had before.

“We’re spending taxpayers’ money here and we need to make sure that we are doing that fairly, honestly, transparently and with a great degree of probity to make sure that we are getting value for money for South Australian taxpayers,” he said.

Mr Knoll told The Border Watch there would not be any net loss of jobs because the sites would still need to be managed and maintained, but instead of government doing it, private and local workers would be.

The transport department has previously said under the new model, local sub-contractors would continue to be used for facilities management and project work.

However, the spokesperson said the department was unable to determine the impact the privatisation would have on 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,” the spokesperson said.

Shadow Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Eddie Hughes said the privitasation of facilities services was deeply concerning and could have a significant impact on contractors who benefit from the publicly-owned organisation.

He said in other states, regional contractors had missed out on work in favour of larger, metropolitan-based companies.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said he asked Mr Knoll to confirm whether regional contractors would be given the same opportunities as larger city-based contractors when it comes to maintenance of regional facilities.

“Although the minister has said, on the record, these opportunities will continue, I think there needs to be further clarification on the impact on regional contractors and businesses when the new model comes into effect in late 2021.”