Page 1588 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2016

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By signing this MOU the government has shown that they have no faith in their own public servants. The government also has no faith in Safe Work Australia or in the Fair Work Ombudsman.

He went on and said:

This MOU shows that ACT’s procurement is ruled not by an elected body but by the unions.

He also raised some significant questions in his article:

So why is there an MOU between the ACT government and UnionsACT that was kept secret, or at best hidden from view? Why does the government and the unions have no trust in the government agencies, and what do they intend to do? We need answers to those questions.

The people that will suffer from this include small businesses who tender for government work. This does not just affect the construction sector where this appears to be targeted. This also means that an unknown, unaccountable third party will be involved in assessing tenders from businesses providing: stationary, training services, transport, consulting advice, legal services, cleaning, real estate services, technology hardware and software, newspapers, catering, and the list goes on.

The questions are broad in regard to what impact this MOU signed by the Chief Minister and UnionsACT has had on procurement decisions in the ACT. In the answers given by those opposite to the questions and the inquiries in this chamber to date there have been inconsistencies as to how much prominence this agreement was given, how effective it was, how often it was used.

Mr Rattenbury, the Greens crossbench cabinet minister, an obscure position to be in, described the agreement as more of an agreement between the ACT Labor Party and the unions rather than an agreement between the ACT government and the unions. Yet just yesterday in question time Dr Bourke answered that he was first made aware of the memorandum of understanding between UnionsACT and the government in his incoming ministerial brief. I quote from Mr Rattenbury’s statement:

For the record, I would like to be clear that I have not had any role in contributing to, signing off or even viewing the document before it was publicly released.

Mr Rattenbury was completely unaware of it; yet three seats down on the frontbench Dr Bourke was made aware of it on being given the job. So it seems that there are questions to be asked as to how many cabinet ministers were aware of it, were aware of its function and were aware of the implications that it had.

To put it into the current context, we are on the eve, I would imagine, of the signing of light rail contracts in the ACT. This will be the biggest single procurement project that the ACT will enter into since self-government. Besides all the controversy or the differing of opinion on whether or not this is the right project, the question remains: has the MOU between UnionsACT and the government had any influence or effect on the decision to proceed with one of the two consortia?

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