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Employment services contracts

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment Services, Senator Ludwig. Minister, how many Australian not-for-profit organisations have recently applied for tenders for new employment service contracts and have failed to be awarded contracts for services they are currently delivering? What is the estimated value of employment service contracts that have now been awarded to profit driven overseas providers?

Answer

Senator LUDWIG-I thank Senator Siewert for her question. If we are talking about the new employment services, the employment services procurement is a robust and thorough process oversighted by an external probity adviser. The department manages the process entirely and it is difficult to be able to comment on specific outcomes before they are finalised by the department itself. I am advised that the tender process for employment services in 2009 to 2012 is still underway and DEEWR has not yet made any final decisions. Of course, in accordance with the RFT, preliminary and without prejudice advice to preferred tenderers was provided on Monday last. This allows the department to undertake negotiations where required with preferred tenderers before final decisions are made.

Of course, the tender process is, by design, competitive and I am confident it will deliver quality providers to meet the needs of job seekers and employers. The new employment services are a result of extensive consultation with industry and stakeholders and support of the new approach has been high, demonstrating the confidence the market has in the new employment services. I will take the specific question on notice and see if I can provide greater detail from Minister O'Connor, although it will depend very much on, I suspect, what information can be provided before a final decision is made with respect to that matter.

Supplementary Question

Senator SIEWERT-Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I thank the minister for taking those matters on notice. Could he also please take this on notice. Could he assure the Senate that WorkDirections UK has not been awarded or will not be awarded one of the contracts that undermines non-government providers and not-for-profit providers in Australia?

Supplementary Answer

Senator LUDWIG-I thank Senator Siewert. I do not have any specific knowledge in relation to the matter. I can take it on notice and see if I can provide an answer. I think it falls into the position that I earlier outlined, which is that the tender process is underway and no final decision has been made in respect of that. But I can say that by design it is a competitive tender process. I am confident that it will deliver quality providers to meet the needs of job seekers and employers. The new employment services have eventuated as a result of extensive consultation. But I will take this specific matter on notice and endeavour to get a response from Minister O'Connor. As I indicated earlier, in answer to your first supplementary question, it will depend on what information can be released prior to the finalisation of the tender process, but I will make an effort to find out. (Time expired)

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