The decision by the State Government to shift 600 maintenance jobs from the private sector into the state bureaucracy, sends the wrong message to businesses around the risks of investing in our State.
CCIWA expects the decision will have long-term impacts. It could potentially lead to taxpayers bearing higher costs for road maintenance, reduce the quality of our roads, negatively impact innovation in the sector and undermine the confidence of contractors to bid for state government contracts in WA.
To date, CCIWA has not received the modelling to justify the decision. It is critical the State Government release it as soon as possible, so that West Australians have the opportunity to understand and stress test the assumptions. It’s otherwise unclear how the decision can arrive at a $25 million saving, when labour and training costs are higher.
The decision also effectively puts the State Government in competition with local businesses, with the public service likely buying or renting plant and equipment from the very operators whose jobs and contracts they have appropriated, at a time of major supply chain disruption.
The pursuit of social objectives, like increasing the availability of government jobs and contracts in the regions, can be pursued in partnership with industry. The private sector often leads governments on issues like local training, Indigenous engagement and employment, and developing opportunities to take part in project supply chains.
This decision continues the trend of shifting private sector jobs into the bureaucracy, whether at Fiona Stanley Hospital, Water Corporation, Main Roads or St John Ambulance. Businesses that tender for government contracts in other areas of the economy will be wondering if they will be next.