Disasters of rampant outsourcing of the public service laid bare

The Greens says today’s second interim report from the Select Committee on Job Security shows that the Morrison Government’s ideological mission to outsource the public sector has seriously undermined the Australian Public Service’s ability to deliver services and provide effective policy advice.
Greens deputy leader and public sector spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said:
“Under the Morrison Government we’ve seen the public service gutted and billions handed out to massive multinational consultancy firms and labour hire companies.
“This rampant outsourcing has produced more expensive, lower quality and less transparent service delivery, while seriously damaging the public sector’s ability to provide effective and impartial policy advice to government.
“Unsurprisingly, the big consultancy firms profiting from this systematic undermining of the public service – EY, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG – are massive political donors, stuffing a combined $4.7 million into the pockets of the major parties over the past decade.
“Australia needs a strong, independent public service capable of meeting the education, housing, health, social security, environmental protection and infrastructure needs of the country. But this PM, true to form, is more interested in delivering corporate handouts than he is in delivering good policy outcomes.
“The Greens support the report’s recommendations to rebuild public service staffing levels, strengthen job security, reduce our reliance on contractors and consultants and improve public oversight of outsourced advice.”
Greens candidate for Canberra Tim Hollo said:
“The outsourcing of ever more essential government functions to private corporations has serious negative impacts on both the Canberra community and the state of our democracy.
“People go into the Public Service because they want to contribute to its vital work, but they’re finding it devastatingly under-funded, with more and more of its work being contracted out to for-profit corporations like the Big 4 consultancy firms.
“Talking to people across the city, from junior public servants to senior ranks, I hear deep frustration that the federal government is constantly undermining their capacity to do their important work through under-funding, contract work, and outsourcing.
“I also speak to countless Canberrans who share our concern about the ties the major parties have to these consultancy firms. People rightly make the connection between the huge amounts of political donations the Labor and Liberal parties receive from these firms, and the loss of job security and capacity within Canberra’s biggest employer.
“But what should worry everyone in this country is that what we’re seeing through this process of corporatising the basic functions of democracy is a shift from governing for the public good to government by for-profit corporations.”

Uni wage theft exposed by Senate report

Australian Greens Education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has welcomed the publication of the Senate Select Committee on Job Security’s second interim report, and called for its recommendations to be implemented.
Senator Faruqi, who is a Committee Member, said:
“Wage theft at our universities is out of control. What’s worse, most universities are continuing to wipe their hands of it and dismiss the systemic and serious nature of the underpayments.
“Casual workers, and particularly women who are overrepresented as casuals, are bearing the brunt of this wage theft that has been allowed to flourish, almost completely unchecked until now. Casualisation and wage theft are inextricably linked. We heard from so many university staff during this inquiry about their horrific experiences.
“An entire generation of casual academics have been hung out to dry.
“Our universities are in desperate need of a massive investment of public funding after the devastation of Covid-19 and the abandonment of the sector by the Commonwealth. But we also need an overhaul of university governance. The corporate university has been built by corporate, neoliberal university management.
“The report provides some very useful recommendations. There should be much clearer reporting requirements with respect to employment statistics. The government should require universities set publicly-available targets for increasing permanent employment, and link this to funding. There should be improved rights of entry for trade unions. All very useful initiatives, and some the Greens have proposed strengthening.”

Park Hotel Covid Outbreak

The Covid outbreak at the Park Hotel detention facility was a preventable crisis that is a direct result of Government negligence, the Greens say.
“The Liberals were warned repeatedly that this would happen, but because of their cruel indifference they left people in cramped and unsafe conditions,” Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said.
“These are people who have been locked up for over eight years and were in Australia for medical treatment. It is a complete failure of duty of care at every possible level.”
“The Australian Government has manifestly failed to deliver the protection it owes these men.”
“With more cases every day, it is incumbent on the Minister to give these people freedom and safety in the Australian community, with appropriate medical care and precautions to ensure that they and the broader community are safe from Covid.”

Greens introduce Bill to extend and reinstate temporary visas

The Greens have today tabled legislation to extend and reinstate the temporary visas of people who were stranded overseas because of international border closures.
“Tens of thousands of temporary visa holders, including people with established homes, jobs and in some cases partners in Australia, were overseas when Australia’s international borders closed due to Covid-19,” Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said.
“Many more had spent thousands of dollars on their visas, had packed up their homes, quit their jobs and were about to move to Australia when the borders closed.”
“Despite their best efforts to return, many have been left languishing overseas watching their visas run down and expire through no fault of their own.”
“The pain and trauma this situation has caused is immeasurable, and there is still no end in sight after more than 18 months.”
“At no point in the pandemic has the Government addressed the pain that the border closure has caused to temporary visa holders stranded overseas.
“They have no plan, no timetable and no pathway for how people on temporary visas will be able to return to their homes, jobs, lives and partners in Australia.”
“The Greens Legislation provides this pathway, by extending visas by the amount of time people have been stranded overseas or reinstate visas that have expired while a person was stranded overseas.”
“The legislation will apply to all temporary visa classes that have been affected by the international border closure.”
“We urge all Members of Parliament to support this Bill.”

$25 million to boost stem cell research in Australia

The Morrison Government is boosting Australian led stem cell research through $25 million in grants, to help find and develop innovative, safe and effective treatments for devastating diseases and injuries.
Through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the Stem Cell Therapies Mission is investing $150 million over 10 years to support world-leading stem cell research, which will improve health outcomes, in partnership with patients and carers.
Up to $25 million is available over five years from 2021-22 through two funding streams –

  • Stream 1 – up to $15m: to support the development of novel stem-cell based treatments by disease-focused large-scale multidisciplinary teams.
  • Stream 2 up to $10m: to support large-scale projects that will focus on pre-clinical evaluation and screening of new treatments using human tissues made from stem cells involving large-scale multi-disciplinary teams.

To receive grants, projects must be working towards a final product or therapy, have a feasible pathway to market, and consider the ethical, legal and social issues associated with the treatment.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said previous projects funded by the Mission are already starting to show promising results.
“These early, yet promising findings, show that our Mission is on track to develop and deliver safe and effective stem cell medicines and treatments that will benefit all Australians who need them,” Minister Hunt said.
“Australia is taking a lead role in stem cell research, and I encourage all stem cell researchers to consider applying for these grants, which will help improve and save lives.”
Previous projects funding through the MRFF Stem Cell Therapies Grant include Professor Peter Currie and his team at Monash University, who have identified a new function for a molecule to activate the body’s own muscle stem cells to repair injury or disease. This finding could change treatment options for tens of thousands of Australians who experience the debilitating effects of muscle injuries and wasting diseases.
Also recipients of previous grant funding, the Council of Queensland Institute of Medical Research researchers have found that inflammation is likely the primary driver of cardiac injury in COVID-19 patients. They have identified a class of drugs that could prevent this and will shortly begin a Phase II clinical study to determine safety and efficacy.
The grants are being offered in line with the Morrison Government’s recently released Stem Cell Therapies Mission Roadmap and Implementation Plan.
These key strategic documents will ensure the Mission remains focused on the priorities determined by an expert advisory panel, led by co-chairs Professor Melissa Little and Professor Mark Kendall.
Applications for the 2021 Stem Cell Therapies Grant Opportunity are now open, with funding available over five years from 2021–22. More information on the grant round can be found at www.grants.gov.au and on the MRFF at www.health.gov.au/mrff.
The Morrison Government’s $20 billion MRFF, is a long-term, sustainable investment in Australian health and medical research, helping to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to the sustainability of the health system.

Employment opportunities in focus as City responds to COVID-19

January 2022 will usher in a new year – and a new career – for 12 trainees, apprentices and graduates as Newcastle looks to create employment opportunities for the city’s young people as part of its response to COVID-19.
City of Newcastle will begin recruiting for its annual intake of early career positions this month, with roles available across a range of sectors including business services, customer service, greenkeeping, horticulture, conservation, metal fabrication, carpentry, civil construction and human resources.
Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen and Civil Field Worker Tarryn Collison-Marsh, who began his career at City of Newcastle as an apprentice.
Successful applicants will begin work towards the end of January, bringing City of Newcastle’s number of apprentices, trainees, undergraduates and graduates to forty-two.
Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said that as one of the largest employers in the region, City of Newcastle has an important role to play in creating career pathways and ongoing job opportunities.
“COVID-19 has been one of the most challenging periods for local jobseekers, with an economic downturn, rising unemployment levels and the restrictions put in place as part of the lockdown orders,” Cr Clausen said.
“Young people have borne the brunt of these impacts, with youth unemployment levels in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie rising to almost 20 per cent earlier this year, significantly higher than the state average.
“Supporting and creating local job opportunities continues to be an important part of our response to the pandemic.
“This includes boosting our 2021/22 works program, which will support the local economy and help create new jobs, and forging ahead with our next intake of apprentices, trainees and graduates, to ensure there are quality early career opportunities for young people available in Newcastle.
“Importantly, these positions offer a foot in the door that can lead to meaningful employment in the longer term.
“In the past 12 months we’ve been able to transition 10 of our trainees and apprentices into permanent or ongoing temporary work opportunities with us, with three of these also undertaking further tertiary studies supported by City of Newcastle. An additional four staff employed under the graduate program have also secured permanent positions.
“With more than 20 of our current apprentices and trainees under the age of 24, City of Newcastle fosters an environment where young staff can learn from experienced professionals. In return these youth employees offer us the passion and enthusiasm that comes with commencing a full-time work career.”
Tarryn Collison-Marsh was among those who made the successful transition into a full-time role this year after previously gaining an apprenticeship in Civil Construction and Road Maintenance in January 2019.
“Obtaining my apprenticeship was not only a kickstart to commence a career at City of Newcastle but also a great stepping stone for a future in the civil construction industry,” the 21-year-old said.
“I’ve learned many skills that will not only greatly benefit me in my career but also in everyday life, such as greater communication skills and the ability to complete my own projects.
“This year I commenced a Diploma in Civil Construction Design and hope to continue my work and study options with City of Newcastle to eventually achieve my goal of becoming a Civil Engineer working on major projects for the Newcastle community.”

Tourism and events recovery turbocharged as visitor economy bounces back

More than $530 million will be invested in reviving events across the state and getting tourism back on track as part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
The tourism and events recovery package includes:

  • $250 million for the expanded Stay & Rediscover scheme providing a $50 voucher to all NSW adults to redeem at accommodation premises across NSW;
  • $150 million to support the recovery of major event activity across the state including $50 million for a Regional Events Package to support major events, festivals, agricultural shows and community events across the regions.
  • $60 million for an Aviation Attraction Fund to incentivise international airlines to re-commence flights to Sydney;
  • $6 million to bring business events back to the city;
  • $50 million for the CBDs Revitalisation Program to support events and activations in CBDs across Greater Sydney and surrounds; and
  • An Event Saver Fund to provide immediate support to organisers if events are cancelled or disrupted by any public health orders during the 2021-22 summer.
  • $25 million for the Festival Relaunch package – to stabilise established commercial and not-for-profit festivals, big and small, so they can program with confidence into 2022/23.
  • $10 million for a Recovery Marketing Campaign including an extension of the successful roadtrips campaign launched in 2020

Premier Dominic Perrottet said this package would bring back tourists and supercharge the businesses and attractions that contribute $38 billion to our economy, making the state one of the world’s most popular destinations.
“Millions of people around the world dream of visiting Sydney and our regional areas. This package not only ensures they can, but that they’ll experience the very best of what we have to offer,” Mr Perrottet said.
“It’s also great news for people right across our state, reviving events and businesses and bringing our major drawcards back to life.  Importantly, more than 300,000 people rely on our tourism industry and our aim is to reclaim our position as one of the world’s favourite destinations.”
Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the much needed investment will help revive shuttered businesses and bring tourism providers back to their vibrant best.
“This was a one in one hundred year event which severely damaged our tourism industry,  operators barely hung in there as they lost bookings, customers and staff, now as we rebuild we can do so with confidence,” Mr Ayres said.
“For our visitor economy to reach its full potential we need event owners to dream big, airlines to fly in and for locals and visitors to embrace our world class venues and hospitality with enthusiasm once again.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said getting tourism back on track and reviving the visitor economy is key to our economic recovery.
“We know NSW is the best place to live, work, learn and play, but this is about bringing visitors back, boosting business and serving up the best of what NSW has to offer to the world,” Mr Kean said.
“We want to support citizens to get out and explore their own backyard, give our events sector the confidence to get back to business and send the signal to the airline industry that NSW is and always will be Australia’s gateway to the world.”
24-Hour Economy Commissioner Michael Rodrigues said the lights of our cities have been dimmed for too long.
“Whether you are heading back to the office, in town for a show or a game, or meeting some friends for an alfresco drink, we want to make going into city centres a magical experience”.
The tourism recovery package is a key part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy.

Sydney's Tech Central set to boom

Sydney’s Tech Central precinct is on track to become a global technology hub with the approval of anchor-tenant Atlassian’s new headquarters and more land rezoned ready for the arrival of new technology players.
Minister for Jobs and Investment Stuart Ayres said Atlassian had received planning approval to build its 40-storey headquarters on the YHA site and the Government had rezoned the Parcel Post building.
“With Atlassian HQ set for construction and the Western Gateway sub-precinct rezoned, the planning controls are now in place to transform this tired transport hub into something to rival Silicon Valley,” Mr Ayres said.
“Tech Central will be home to 25,000 jobs over 24 hectares once fully developed. Atlassian’s headquarters alone will accommodate 5,000 operational jobs in the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower.”
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the approvals were a significant milestone in what would be the largest government-led urban renewal in the State.
“The revamp of Central Station and delivery of Tech Central will create a commercial core in the City’s south that would include a public domain with new open space, shops and cafes all on top of the rail corridor.
“This project is a vote of confidence in the Sydney CBD and brings new employment space close to Central Station, providing easy access to jobs, homes and services.”
The $546 million Atlassian tower is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2022, with completion expected by 2026.
A competitive design competition is underway for the Parcel Post building and Henry Deane Plaza, which is scheduled to be finalised later this year. Detailed development applications are expected to follow. For more information, visit: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Plans-for-your-area/State-Significant-Precincts/Central-Sydney-Precinct

Next stage of school building program revealed

More than 50 tender opportunities for architects, engineers, project managers and builders are available as the NSW Government begins the next stage of its historic school building program.
The 44 new and upgraded school projects represent a $3.3 billion investment in NSW public schools and will create more than 16,000 jobs – helping businesses and people across the state begin to recover from the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government is focused on the economic recovery of the state and also giving kids the best start in life.
“NSW is learning to live with COVID, and today’s announcement provides further certainty to businesses and school communities,” Mr Perrottet said.
“COVID restrictions put a pause on a number of school construction projects, but these are back, and now we are calling on businesses to tender for the next stage of the school building program.
“For our kids to be the best and brightest they need the bricks and mortar to support them and we’re delivering that in spades.”
Minister Mitchell said the $3.3 billion investment would create thousands of jobs helping turbocharge the State’s pandemic recovery while delivering better schools for students.
“This building blitz will help drive our economic recovery by supporting jobs in communities throughout NSW providing a much-needed boost to businesses, families giving our economic rebound a valuable springboard,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Our record investment in school infrastructure will see thousands of tradies with tools in hand building new and improved schools giving our kids the best chance to achieve their academic potential.
“This package of works continues the government’s investment in school building with 50 new and upgraded schools delivered in 2020 and a further 18 already delivered in 2021.”
The 44 new and upgraded school projects are in addition to the 85 schools currently being delivered.
The NSW Government is investing $7.9 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 215 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.

Man charged with assaulting store employee after allegedly refusing to wear face mask – Upper Hunter region

A man has been charged after refusing to wear a face mask in-store and allegedly assaulting a store worker in the Upper Hunter region yesterday.
About 4.15pm (Tuesday 19 October 2021), a 30-year-old man was working at a food store on Mayne Street, Murrurundi when a man entered the store without wearing a face mask.
The store employee offered the man a mask, when the man allegedly became verbally aggressive towards the worker and left the store.
A short time later, the man returned to the store and walked behind the counter, before allegedly assaulting the employee repeatedly and attempting to drag him from the store while threatening him.
Customers went to the aid of the injured man, and the man left the scene.
The store employee was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics for cuts and bruises to his face and swelling to his left eye, before being taken to Murrurundi Hospital. He has since been released.
Officers from Hunter Valley Police District were called and commenced investigations.
Following inquiries, police attended a home on Rosella Street, Murrurundi, and arrested a 53-year-old man.
He was taken to Muswellbrook Police Station where he was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The man was granted conditional bail, to appear at Scone Local Court on 18 November 2021.