Manufacturing top of agenda in NSW inquiry into government procurement

The NSW government will launch an inquiry into government procurement after concerns were raised about a decrease in local manufacturing and content levels under previous governments.

The current Minster for Domestic Manufacturing and Government Procurement, Courtney Houssos, said under the previous state government, billions of tax dollars went overseas for key government contracts, causing the loss of potential local jobs.

She claimed the decision has ‘decimated’ the state’s manufacturing industry.

The NSW government spends about $37 billion in procurement of goods and services, construction and with other suppliers each year.

It came in the wake of a McKell Institute report which found thousands of jobs would have been created in NSW had the previous Liberal-National Government contracted local train manufacturers instead of going offshore.

“The former Liberal-National Government decimated the state’s manufacturing industry over more than a decade by sending major projects and the jobs they support overseas,” Houssos said.

“It will take time to rebuild the sector after the previous government’s failures and the inquiry will help direct critical reforms.

“We are committed to leveraging the power of government procurement to promote local jobs and foster our local manufacturing industry.”

The NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues will now get an inquiry underway to assess how to improvement procurement, increase transparency, promote better economic and labour market outcomes, and also increase procurement from Aboriginal-owned businesses, women owned businesses and social enterprises, while boosting skills and training.

Queensland recently invested heavily in the future of its manufacturing industry, as construction beings on the $40 million Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Centre (RAMC) ‘Big Build’ project at the Eagle Farm TAFE. This facility is designed to help upskill Queensland’s future manufacturing workforce for upcoming automation and Industry 4.0.

Dr Sarah Kaine MLC, the current director for Industrial Relations Compliance in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, and a former director of the McKell Institute and organiser at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), will chair the NSW inquiry.

“I am an advocate for governments using their economic weight in publicly funded supply chains to promote better social, economic and labour market outcomes,” Dr Kaine said.

“This inquiry will consider the potential for procurement to contribute to the social development of the people of NSW, encourage ethical conduct, domestic manufacturing, innovation and inclusion.

“We should not have a situation where companies that attract public funding do not adhere to accepted legal and moral standards of fairness.”


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