|Issue No 32||24 September 1999|
Government Rules Nobble Public Sector
Public sector guidelines on equal opportunity, superannuation and health safety are making it impossible for government agencies to win competitive tenders, unions from across the factions will argue at next week's ALP State Conference.
They are expected to call on state government departments and agencies to discount legally sanctioned wages and conditions when comparing bids for government jobs.
And they will argue that independent social impact studies should be conducted before contracts for government work are awarded to the private sector, arguing the current system ignores the impact of these decisions on rural communities.
"It's not a case of comparing apples with apples," Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says of the current competitive tendering system.
"We have reached the point where we do have an efficient public sector - but we can't expect people to do the impossible."
The resolution on competitive tendering will be one of a series of motions that will be put to conference in a bid to push the Carr Government from its market-driven policy agenda.
These include support for ongoing industrial relations reform and the running of a social audit into the distribution of government services, which will be the focus of a conference this week, jointly hosted by the Labor Council, NCOSS and the Ethnic Communities Council.
Anger amongst unions has been rising over the impact of government policies since the state election victory in March, with a wave of industrial action in agencies as diverse as TAFE, Sydney Water, the Roads Transport Authority and State Rail.
Costa says a social audit would be a mechanism for addressing these concerns in a controlled and rational manner, charting both the distribution of government services and the level of community expectation.
"We need a process to identify the social impact of government spending decisions, whether they are being shared fairly across the community and whether the community has a realistic expectation of what governments can do," Costa says.
The Audit would provide a clear and transparent for a long-term evaluation of government spending levels and priorities. Unions will finalise their conference positions early this week.
Faction Friction for Open Forum
The ALP State Conference will conclude with an open forum on the future of the factions, with delegates given the opportunity for a free discussion on party structures.
While there will be no resolutions arising from the debate, Costa says it's an important first step in engaging with the need to reform the factional system.
"I'd be hoping that we would at least see a recognition that in the post-Cold War era the old ways of running the party are increasingly irrelevant," Costa says.
He says the preceding debates on key union resolutions will be the first test of Conference's ability to work across the factions on matters of substance.
Left Calls on Carr to Review Debt Target
Meanwhile, the ALP Left is preparing a resolution calling on the state government to review its commitment to eliminate debt by 2020 and free up money for the sort of needs that would be identified in a Social Audit..
ALP assistant secretary Damien O'Connor says the Carr Government's Debt Elimination Act is the only legislation of its type anywhere in Australia.
O'Connor says the decision to pursue zero debt is a political, not economic, decision. "A rational, progressive policy is to have manageable, or sustainable debt," he says. The Carr Government has already seen the size of government net debt decline from 7.2 to 4.5% of the State economy.
"This is a notable achievement but the wisdom of further reductions is highly questionable given pressure for spending on social justice areas such as community services and rural services. Considerable funds would be released if the Government was to lock in Government Net Debt at 4.5% of GSP, and place a moratorium on the quest for zero debt.
"The difference between a manageable debt approach and the zero debt by 2020 approach is hundreds of millions of dollars each year. This money would be available to spend here and now, rather than be paid to banks and bondholders here and now."
The Social Wellbeing Conference - Thursday Septemeber 30
A Sydney audience will hear first-hand reports from a UN conference held this week in Copenhagen, about how quality of life is affected as the world grows economically.
Around 200 people, members of the Labor Council of NSW, the NSW Council of Social Service and the Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW will attend a forum at the Masonic Centre in Goulburn Street to discuss a social audit, to be held in Sydney on 30 September.
After the keynote speech on quality of life indicators from Australia Institute director Dr Clive Hamilton, a panel will discuss the distribution of government resources, and the effect this has on the people of NSW and Australia. The panel facilitator is Dr Michael Fine, from the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre. He will be joined by five panellists including Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti, NSW Reconciliation Council Chairperson Linda Burney, and Social Science lecturer Eva Cox.
The conference is free. Ring Deirdre Mahoney on 02-9286 1631 to register
Interview: His Daily Fix
Graham Richardson talks of his transition from national politics to talkback radio and his ongoing jobs as a fixer.
Politics: Requiem to the Third Way
The swing to Labor in Victoria shows clearly that once again Australian voters have rejected economic rationalism. The result, and the reasons for it, should worry John Howard.
International: A Common Struggle for Freedom
It may not get the headlines, but Western Sahara has some chilling similarities with East Timor.
Unions: Woolscour Workers say No to Peter Reith
Workers at Canobolas Wooltopping - a woolscour plant near Orange, in central west New South Wales, have just sent a message to Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith: thanks, but no thanks.
Legal: Outlawed Acts of Consicence
The recent boycotts in support of East Timorese indepndence highlights the extremism of Reith's second wave.
History: Was Manning Clark A True Believer
A Canberra history conference shines the spotlight on Australia's most famous historian.
Review: Paranoid Echoes
The calls to examine the Australian–Soviet documents in the Moscow Literary archives have grown in volume over the past year.
Labour Review: What's New at the Information Centre
The latest issue of Labour Review - a resource for officals and students.
Satire: Kennett Boosts Chances: Two More Independents Dead
Caretaker Premier Jeff Kennett today admitted that voters perceived him as arrogant and out of touch, but insisted that they were wrong.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005