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Employment National privatisation fear

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

Australian Democrats Employment Spokesperson

9 March 1998 MEDIA RELEASE 981134

Employment National privatisation fear

The Australian Democrats' longstanding concerns about the Federal Government's tendering out of job services are being realised, said their spokesperson for Employment, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

"The tendering process has been shown to be fundamentally flawed and the ramifications are horrific for the unemployed and the employment service industry", said Senator Stott Despoja.

"Despite copious evidence of expertise and experience presented by tenderers, it would appear that the more established and successful the organisation, the less likely it was to be awarded a contract.

"Examples abound of wildly inappropriate awards having been made. In my state of South Australia, the Offenders Aid and Rehabilitation Services of SA Inc received contracts for services other than its area of expertise, and in Sydney, contracts for Botany and Chatswood have been awarded to a Gold Coast firm which has never operated in the area.

"Every day, more sorry details come to light demonstrating how the new scheme will fail the unemployed through lack of choice and access and delays in the provision of vitally-needed services.

"Many small businesses which have been providing invaluable services to the unemployed, and the community as a whole will go under as they have been ignored by the Government. A significant proportion of successful tenderers have been awarded contracts which are not financially viable, and which will see them struggle to compete against the Government-owned Employment National,

which was awarded an astounding 42% of case management work, the most lucrative sector of the market.

"We would like to know why organisations with proven expertise lost out to organisations with little or no capacity to deliver the services for which they were contracted. Why was Employment National awarded a disproportionate amount of the most lucrative work at the expense of smaller providers?

"Employment National has been handed the employment market on a plate, and we call on the Minister for Employment to explain why this is so and to give Australians an assurance that the Government is not merely fattening up Employment National for future privatisation," concluded

Senator Stott Despoja.

For comment contact Senator Stott Despoja on (02) 6277 3645 or 0148 812 589