THURSDAY 2 JULY 2020
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Can the minister advise the house if a Regional Impact Assessment Statement has been made regarding the proposed outsourcing of the facility maintenance services, and what communication or consultation has been undertaken? If so, how was this carried out with regard to the proposal to outsource the facility services management across the Yorke and Mid North?With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will explain further.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK: Three weeks ago, the minister indicated on radio that these facility maintenance services currently in operation would be outsourced. These maintenance services currently service over 70 preferred DPTI contractors, who employ well in excess of 330 employees, who in turn not only provide local employment but also purchase materials that are utilised locally, which generates economic opportunities for these locations.
The Hon. S.K. KNOLL (Schubert—Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (14:42): I do thank the member for Frome for his question. I want to make something a little bit clear here, because there is some confusion as to what outsourcing means in this regard. Apart from a very small number of government employees who provide pockets of actual service delivery across Adelaide, the vast, vast majority—I think it is about $300-odd million worth of work that is done under the facilities management contracts—is already outsourced and has been outsourced for a long period of time.
What we are talking about here is the outsourcing of the facilities management, i.e. the people who manage the contractors and make sure that everything is done in accordance with what is right and make sure that all the risk assessments and the appropriate occ health and safety requirements in relation to maintaining facilities are done properly. So we are not talking about people doing the work; they are already all outsourced and will continue to be. There is a small number of internal staff that did perform some work. That is also being outsourced, but that is a very, very small portion of the $300 million.
Of that facilities management layer, around 60 per cent of the work done is already outsourced under an AGFMA arrangement—when I say ‘AGFMA’, Across Government Facilities Management Agreement—that has been in place for about 20 years. All we are doing is essentially extending a structure that has been place for two decades to make it consistent. So, instead of having some DPTI internal facilities management staff and then these AGFMA contract staff, we are going to just a single external contractor.
In terms of local contractors being able to undertake the work, that will continue. In the question that the member for Frome put, he was talking about contractors who employee local people. Those local people are already employed. They are already private outsourced contractors. Those arrangements will continue. The structure of the contract—this was again in response to a question from the member for Mount Gambier, I think, yesterday—is such that we are actually improving the contestability of these arrangements.
Some of the feedback we’ve received from agencies—and what I’m saying to agencies is that, essentially, DPTI here is actually just the agency that looks after these things; the other agencies are actually the clients. There are about 5½ thousand sites across South Australia that get managed under this AGFMA contract.
What we’re doing is giving greater opportunity, for small low-risk work, for that work to not necessarily come through the AGFMA contract but for—let’s say there’s a school which wants to undertake some handyman work or undertake what we call planned small construction or soft facilities management. Instead of the school needing to go through the AGFMA contract to get that work, what is going to happen moving forward with the new procurement is for the school to be able to use their local preferred people.
Again, these arrangements are complex, but what I want to dispel is a myth that is being put around, that somehow—and this is where the confusion lies—we are going to be outsourcing contract work that is already outsourced. I just want to assure small to medium-sized businesses across South Australia who currently do work under the AGFMA contract, as well as ones that are contracted with DPTI, that those opportunities are still going to exist.
As part of these arrangements, there has been no change to the budgets of client agencies and the money that they have to manage their sites. All we’re doing is, instead of having DPTI facilities management and AGFMA facilities management, we’re going to have one arrangement instead of two.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (14:46): Supplementary: has this been explained to the 70 prequalified DPTI contractors out in the regions currently at the moment, specifically in Yorke and the Mid North, who are very confused about how this is going to go? If the message hasn’t got out there, I would strongly request that this be clarified with those contractors out there— The
SPEAKER: Member for Frome, we have the question.
The Hon. S.K. KNOLL (Schubert—Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (14:46): To outline the process, there has been consultation. Essentially, this is a decision that the government has taken in recent weeks. The procurement arrangements for the new contract haven’t started. The existing arrangements are still in place and are going to be in place until sometime next year.
What’s happened is that we have undertaken consultation processes with the internal government employees that are affected. There has certainly been consultation with those employees because they are directly affected, and those arrangements and consultation processes will happen, as they should, according to the enterprise bargaining and normal industrial relations agreements.
What happens next in terms of discussions with contractors who undertake work currently, that will certainly start as of now but, again, cabinet only took this decision a few weeks ago. The procurement has not as yet started so there is still quite a way to run before we award that contract and then for those arrangements to change.
Again, what I want to assure contractors is that there is no reduction in budgets from agencies being able to undertake work. Second of all, under the new arrangements, we have as part of this moved to improve contestability. What we know, and the feedback we’ve got, is that especially for low-risk work, local sites know their sites well. They know which contractors know their sites and have previously done work, and who can come and fix things up and do it cheaper. It is a truncated arrangement that is not as bureaucratic.
We’re actually improving those opportunities. Handyman services, soft facilities management, small planned construction works under $1 million—for all these things we’re actually providing greater opportunity now. What we can’t guarantee is that every single contractor is going to keep the work that they’ve had before.
We’re spending taxpayers’ money here and we need to make sure that we are doing that fairly, honesty, transparently and with a great degree of probity to make sure that we are getting value for money for South Australian taxpayers. But that pool of money is there and it’s not going to be undertaken by anybody else except for businesses in South Australia.
I certainly can understand, and I have received correspondence with my office about individual contractors wanting to know if they can hold onto individual contracts. Again, that’s very difficult, but even under the current system, you would not expect individual contractors to get a job for life. We undertake procurements to make sure that we spend taxpayers’ dollars wisely and that we get the best deal, the best value for money and the best quality for the cheapest price, as well as making sure those industry participation policy arrangements are also managed through the procurement process. All of those things will continue