Page 1587 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2016

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UnionsACT. There have been significant questions and concerns about, and even some condemnation of, the existence of this agreement, and I believe that it is appropriate that this is examined by a committee of the Assembly and that proper scrutiny is applied to outline and understand exactly what the purpose of the agreement was, why it was introduced and to what extent its application has influenced procurement decisions within the ACT.

There has been widespread discussion on the issue of this MOU since it was made public a couple of months ago and significant bodies have made statements and weighed into the debate as to whether or not this is, in fact, an appropriate delegation of power by the ACT government.

On 16 March this year the Canberra Business Chamber put out a press statement that said:

Additional, unnecessary and undisclosed hurdles in the ACT Government procurement process, such as reviews by a non-government entity, seem to add little to the process, while potentially compromising it.

They went on to say:

Analysis of the MOU between the ACT Government and UnionsACT suggests they are both parties in the decision-making process and preference is given to union-friendly provisions.

For example, the MOU seems to indicate successful tenders will be obliged to provide access to union officials in excess of their statutory rights under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Of equal concern is the fact the role of UnionsACT has not clearly been disclosed to tenderers.

The Property Council raised concerns and stated that while they have every confidence in the integrity of government officials making decisions about tenders they do not share the same confidence in external parties. The Property Council of Australia also said that they were after assurances from the Chief Minister that at no point in time were commercial terms revealed to UnionsACT for any procurement projects. Substantial questions need to be raised about whether or not commercial-in-confidence information was provided to any union on any procurement decision and, if so, what influence that may have had on the outcome.

At the beginning of this week Peter Strong, the CEO of the Council of Small Business Australia, had an op ed published in the Canberra Times in which he also raised some significant concerns and raised some substantial questions. He said:

This recent version of the MOU was unknown to the public and industry for well over 12 months.

He described this as deceitful and dishonest. He said:

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