Union welcomes Labor policy for local jobs in government procurement

January 22, 2019: The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union President Andrew Dettmer yesterday welcomed the announcement of an ALP national procurement policy that will apply to  Commonwealth government purchasing of $50 billion per year. He said it would create more local manufacturing jobs and training in regional Australia, and congratulated union members who campaigned for the policy.

Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that the policy would:

  • increase resources for the Australian Industry Participation Scheme to encourage local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employing less than 200 workers to compete for government contracts worth more than $10 million in areas like airports, mines and railways;
  • require bidders to set out how they will test the local labour market for any new workers or suppliers required for the project or contract;
  • require one in ten workers on major projects to be apprentices from the local area.

The announcement follows similar procurement policy announcements by state Labor Governments in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.

Mr Shorten said the policy was consistent with Australia’s trade agreement obligations, which open government procurement to international firms and prohibit preference to local firms, because such agreements had exceptions for SMEs.

AFTINET has consistently advocated for trade agreements to retain the right of governments to give preference to local SMEs, and in 2017 a cross-party parliamentary select committee inquiry commended that Australia should ensure that trade agreements do not prevent government from supporting local employment.