Chapter 13

Job security and Commonwealth procurement


The procurement of goods and services is a significant activity for the Australian Government. For example, in 2019–20 there were 81 174 contracts published on AusTender1 with a combined value of $53.9 billion.2
This significant purchasing power can have a material impact on the socioeconomic outcomes for numerous communities across Australia, and the policies and frameworks under which these goods and services are obtained can have positive and negative implications for the welfare of these communities, including the security of the jobs they create.
In March 2020, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) published the Australian Government Procurement Contract Reporting Update report (ANAO Report). This report showed that the total contract value for the five year period up to and including 2018–19, was $305 billion, or approximately $61 billion per year.3
As highlighted in Chapter 1, the five highest-value categories of Commonwealth procurement in the period 2010–11 to 2018–19 were:
commercial and military and private vehicles and their accessories and components, at 24.1 per cent;
management and business professionals and administrative services, at 18.7 per cent;
engineering and research and technology-based services, at 8.5 per cent;
building and construction and maintenance services, at 8.2 per cent; and
information technology, broadcasting, and telecommunications, at 7.6 per cent.4
The ANAO Report also noted that the majority of contracts involved the procurement of services, as opposed to goods, and that a small number of areas represented the majority of reported contract value. Further, it reported that a small number of suppliers commonly 'dominate in most of those categories'.5 See Figure 13.1, below, for further information.

Figure 13.1:  Procurement categories with most concentrated markets

Source: ANAO, Auditor General Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 42.
The utilisation of procurement panels has also grown significantly in recent years, and it was reported that a relatively small proportion of suppliers on these panels are commonly awarded the majority of contract value when the panel is utilised. Further, the ANAO noted that there were indications that some panels are still being accessed after their reported end date.6
The ANAO Report listed eight key non-government entities that were reported as providing significant services to the Government across the decade to
2018–19. Figure 13.2, below, highlights the aggregated reported contract value for these providers for each year, as well as the proportion reported by each individual entity. As shown, the value of the contracts for these entities has increased from under $400 million in 2009–10 to over $1.1 billion in 2018–19.7

Figure 13.2:  Contracts value by significant consultancy services providers

Source: Australian National Audit Office, Auditor General Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 45.

Limitations on data

Although two thirds of Government entities are obliged to report contract data on AusTender, approximately 34 per cent of these entities do not centrally report the value of their procurement activities as they are not covered by the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).8 The ANAO Report noted that some of these entities are 'engaged in significant procurement activities'.9
The ANAO also highlighted that the Department of Finance advised that the AusTender system had no significant linkages to agency financial management information systems, except an upload capability, and was designed and built to perform a 'gazettal function'. Hence, it only utilises simple data structures and has limited fields. Given this, the ANAO concluded that:
These circumstances affect the extent to which AusTender data can be used to analyse the types of goods and/or services being contracted, and the suppliers being contracted with.10

Commonwealth Procurement Rules

The CPRs aim to ensure that the Government and Australian taxpayers achieve value for money across Commonwealth procurements. They provide a number of rules which govern how entities buy goods and services from external providers and are managed by the Department of Finance.11
In his foreword to the release of the latest CPRs, the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, stated the following:
The Commonwealth Procurement Rules are the keystone of the Government’s procurement policy framework. They are supported by a range of tools including the AusTender system, guidance material and templates developed and maintained by the Department of Finance to ensure accountability and transparency, and reduce the costs and complexity of conducting business with the Australian Government.
Achieving value for money is the core rule of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules as it is critical to ensuring that public resources are used in the most efficient, effective, ethical and economic manner. However, it is important to remember that price is not the only factor when assessing value for money, and officials are required to consider all relevant financial and non-financial costs and benefits, including environmental sustainability, associated with a procurement.12
The principle of competition during Government procurement is a key element of the CPRs, and these rules aim to limit the use of non-competitive approaches—especially for significant, high-value procurements. Notwithstanding this, it was reported by the ANAO that more than half of all contracts resulted from limited tender processes, rather than through an open tender.13

The utilisation of procurement policy to promote social and economic objectives

It was strongly argued by a number of inquiry participants that federal, state, and local governments have an important role in promoting social and economic objectives, such as job security, through their procurement policies. For example, the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) said:
As federal, state and local government departments and agencies are the largest purchaser of goods, services and construction projects in Australia, they have an important role in driving the use of public expenditure to improve social and economic outcomes.14
Noting the negative socioeconomic impacts of insecure and precarious work, WEstjustice contended that the Australian Government should be 'leading the way' in ensuring that its procurement policies require businesses tendering for work to have a strong track record of compliance with workplace laws and a demonstrated commitment to diversity targets and work security.15
When procuring goods and services from the market, The Australia Institute argued that governments should preference Australian firms which 'demonstrate adherence to norms of secure employment, including permanency and adequate working hours to support a living wage'. It submitted that:
Governments should make a clear policy statement that they commit to use their economic resources and spending power to reinforce rising wages and stronger labour standards across Australia’s economy.16
In their submission to the inquiry, Jesuit Social Services highlighted the capacity for Australian Government procurements to contribute 'social value', and that this should be meaningfully pursued to create sustainable job opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage. It contended that a portion of the spending could be targeted towards achieving positive social outcomes for the long-term unemployed, those individuals who have low skill levels, and people living in areas of high social disadvantage.17
The Victorian Trades Hall Council called for a whole-of-government procurement policy which set the standard required for organisations tendering for public work. In particular it argued that a key part of such a policy should be the inclusion of quotas for apprentices, women, and First Nations workers. It also stated that there should be 'rigorous compliance, auditing and enforcement responsibilities to ensure that social procurement and other procurement policies relating to the supply of goods and services are complied with'.18
Unions NSW called for a procurement policy which gives 'financial advantage' to businesses employing workers in secure jobs. It stated that:
… [b]y adopting a holistic approach to assessing tenders for any good or service that spends taxpayers’ money, with an emphasis on secure, quality and local jobs, government purchasing can promote job security and better wage and labour standards.
In practice this would mean a procurement policy that requires commitment from suppliers to such things as a preference for permanent employment, a clear avoidance of exploitative gig work practices, job and pay security at change of contract, drawing on local employment pools, the payment of prevailing wages underpinned by a living wage, indexed wage parity for outsourced staff, registered enterprise agreements, trained Health and Safety Representatives, union rights agreements, a right to conciliation and arbitration of disputes, paid domestic violence leave and the right for workers in government supply chains to bargain across the supply chain.19
Unions NSW also contended that contractors in government supply chains should be obligated to provide full and transparent reporting of their adherence to minimum labour standards, and to detail the nature of any subcontracting relationships with other suppliers. Further, it submitted that lead contractors at the top of these supply chains should also take responsibility for breaches found lower down the supply chain; that is, for such breaches both the breaching organisation and the lead contractor should be held responsible.20
The South Coast Labour Council stated that governments of all levels have a responsibility to ensure that procurements are assessed on the economic and social benefits they deliver; not just their price. Given this, it submitted that:
… the job security of local workers who could benefit from working on Government funded recovery and reconstruction projects must be elevated from an objective to a requirement in the awarding of tenders and the content and enforcement of contracts.21
Kingsford Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre, in a joint submission, highlighted the purchasing power wielded by the Australian Government, and contended that it should be used to 'prioritise business with organisations that engage in positive employment practices, beyond mere compliance with minimum legal standards', such as those who provide secure employment for their workers.22
The Australian Council of Trade Unions raised their concerns regarding the lack of acceptance and accountability by the Australian Government of the impact its procurement policies and practices have on insecure working arrangements. It suggested that for procurements above a certain threshold, the Government should:
… require in advance a full and transparent reporting by prospective suppliers regarding their adherence to labour standards (including the principle of paying at least living wages) and compliance with relevant employment law, and the nature of their own sub-contracting and supply chain relationships with other suppliers.23
A number of inquiry participants highlighted the procurement models and frameworks utilised in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, contrasting them favourably against the Commonwealth's framework. An overview of both of these frameworks is provided below along with relevant inquiry participant commentary.

Victorian Government's procurement policies

Social Procurement Framework

The Victorian Government has implemented a Social Procurement Framework which aims to ensure that value-for-money considerations encompass broader opportunities to 'deliver social and sustainable outcomes that benefit the Victorian community'. The Victorian Government noted that this commitment to social procurement reflects a growing focus, both domestically and internationally, on the strategic use of resources to drive positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes.24
The framework sets out a whole-of-government approach to 'streamline and embed' social procurement within ordinary government processes. It is informed by seven guiding principles, which are listed below:
A standard and consistent approach across the Victorian Government.
Easy to understand and adopt with minimal administrative burden for all businesses, especially small and medium enterprises.
Simple for government to embed in everyday business.
Scalable for all sizes and types of businesses and suppliers.
User-friendly and supported with guidance, education, tools, and templates.
Able to be effectively measured and reported.
Demonstrates Government leadership in promoting the use of social procurement across Victoria.25
VCOSS highlighted that Victoria's Social Procurement Framework was Australia's first whole-of-government commitment to social procurement, and that it sets 'a clear expectation that social procurement is standard practice for the Victorian Government'. It noted that supporting safe and fair workplaces is one of the framework's objectives and this requires the utilisation of suppliers who 'comply with industrial relations laws and promote secure employment'.26
Jesuit Social Services submitted that the Social Procurement Framework was a 'positive starting point', and advocated for a Commonwealth social procurement policy which:
sets clear and ambitious targets;
is not be limited to largescale, high-spend projects;
fosters partnerships with employers and other organisations, such as those focussing on generating social value; and
aims to place disadvantaged jobseekers into secure and sustainable employment.27

Supplier Code of Conduct

In 2017, the Victorian Government introduced a Supplier Code of Conduct (the Code) which required suppliers to acknowledge a minimum standard of behaviour when conducting business with the state. Specifically, it described minimum expectations around:
integrity, ethics, and conduct;
conflicts of interest, gifts, benefits and hospitality;
corporate governance;
labour and human rights;
health and safety; and
environmental management.28
The Victorian Government stated that it views its suppliers as 'partners' and that it cares about the way they do business when providing goods and services. Suppliers are expected to self-assess their compliance with the Code, and to take prompt action to correct any deficiencies or breaches.29
In its submission to the inquiry, the Australian Institute of Employment Rights highlighted the Victorian Government's effort to promote ethical, sustainable, and socially responsible procurement through the Code, and contrasted it with the current approach taken by the Australian Government. It also articulated what it saw as a deficiency with the Code:
… the Victorian Code, whilst referencing compliance with labour and human rights standards, unfortunately does not preference secure employment arrangements. Hence, procurement decisions are not yet incentivised in this way. With the omission, government is incentivising insecure arrangements by promoting a race to the bottom between suppliers to compete on low labour costs.30

Local Jobs First and Fair Jobs Code

The Victorian Government has implemented a Local Jobs First policy which aims to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses are provided a 'full and fair opportunity' to compete for both large and small government contracts. The Victorian Government states that the policy supports businesses and workers, and helps to create opportunities for apprentices, trainees, and cadets.31
In its submission to the inquiry, the Victorian Government highlighted that it was also developing a Fair Jobs Code which would outline standards that apply to businesses that are awarded grants and who supply goods and services to the government. Importantly it noted that '[t]hese standards will seek to ensure that these businesses are providing fair working conditions and are compliant with their workplace obligations'.32

Australian Capital Territory Government's procurement policies

The ACT Government's procurement framework contains legislation, policies, guidance and templates which aim to 'address insecure work practices and unethical work practices' of those entities engaged by the territory to deliver goods and services. In its submission to the inquiry, the ACT Government highlighted the following five key aspects of its procurement framework:
Government Procurement (Charter of Procurement Values) Direction 2020
Canberra Region Local Industry Participation Policy
Ethical Supplier Declaration
Secure Local Jobs Code
Compliance with workplace laws and standards.33
A key component of this framework, as highlighted and endorsed by inquiry participants, was the Secure Local Jobs Code. For example, VCOSS noted the role of the Secure Local Jobs code in promoting job security in the ACT and reducing the incidence of insecure work. It stated that part of the certification process requires businesses to engage an approved auditor, and submitted that:
… [e]nsuring that companies are independently verified and demonstrate a track record of compliance with workplace laws will help promote the provision of decent and secure work.34
WEstjustice suggested that the Commonwealth Government should ensure that tenders for public work can only be submitted by companies who have an independently verified and demonstrated track record of compliance with workplace laws, as well as a commitment to secure work and diversity targets. In this regard, WEjsutice commended the ACT's Secure Local Jobs Code and certification process.35

A discussion of government procurement in the ICT sector


The effective utilisation of digital technologies has become essential in delivering government services in the 21st century. The importance of digital capability became evident in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic commenced, with ICT technologies allowing for the uninterrupted delivery of basic public services to communities around Australia whilst the majority of APS employees transitioned to working from home for extended periods of time.
In recognition of this increasing need, over the last decade the Government has made significant investments in the data and digital space, and has undertaken various transformation programs on legacy ICT systems. For example, it has introduced the myGov website, which is a whole-of-government singlesignon portal which has more than 10 million active users.36
The Independent Review of the Australian Public Service (the APS Review) acknowledged these investments, stating that they served as a good foundation upon which to 'build and accelerate the APS's digital transformation'. However, it also highlighted that:
Acceleration is necessary because, despite these investments, the APS is not keeping pace with increasing public expectations.37
The CPSU submitted that the Australian community expects government digital services to perform at, or above, the standard of leading private sector companies. Citing a research report, it contended that community satisfaction declined from 71 per cent to 59 per cent over the two years to 2018, and that many people found it difficult to navigate online government resources and services.38
Furthermore, in addition to external-facing digital services, the CPSU also highlighted that ICT systems are essential for APS employees to do their daytoday jobs. Referencing a survey it undertook of 6 000 public servants, the CPSU contended that approximately half disagreed, or strongly disagreed, that their agency provides quality systems and tools; and that less than one in three agreed, or strongly agreed, that their agency had invested in modern technologies.39
The APS Review also noted that data and digital is 'underutilised in many areas', such as in service delivery and the evaluation of policies and programs. Furthermore it cited a maturity assessment of over 25 agencies undertaken in 2018 which found that the APS, as a single institution, was in an 'early stage of digital literacy'. See Figure 13.3 below for an international comparison.40

Figure 13.3:  An international comparison of digital literacy

Source: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Our Public Service, Our Future: Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, p. 145.

Procurement policy

A key area of development recognised by the APS Review was ICT procurement—specifically, ensuring that the APS has the skills required to source digital solutions. It noted that:
… the APS needs considerable in-house skills and knowledge to ensure that it is getting the correct products to deliver outcomes, as well as value for money.41
The CPSU also recognised the need for internal skills and knowledge within the APS, commenting that:
[w]hile not everything can be done in-house, the lack of internal ICT has implications for contracting. It is difficult to manage a contract when there is limited in-house knowledge or experience of what is being managed. Having the internal ICT capability to assure and monitor is important and can lead to significant cost reductions[.]42
The CPSU argued that the Government has overly relied on ICT contractors, and that this approach has 'deskilled the APS'. In support of this, the CPSU cited the 2017 ICT Procurement Taskforce Report (ICT Report) published by the Digital Transformation Agency which found that:
one third of APS ICT workers are contractors;
over the last five years, the share of external ICT personnel has grown; and
external provides cost substantially more than APS employees.43
The ICT Report concluded that 'technical ICT capability gaps in the Australian Public Service have resulted from an over-reliance on ICT contractors' and stated that:
… [t]his over-reliance on contractors is unsustainable going forward. It is expensive (the average annual cost of an internal ICT employee is around $132,000 while the cost of a contractor is around $214,000), and causes ongoing erosion of ICT capability in agencies.44
The CPSU argued that the trend to increased ICT outsourcing and contracting has created 'critical issues with capability, cost, and user experience'. To offset these issues, the CPSU suggested the following:
A genuine commitment by government, backed by funding, to substantial ongoing investment in ICT systems, staff skills and a properly funded ICT workforce plan.
Committing to provide the level of funding needed, as recommended in the Independent Review of the APS, to overcome the gap with the private sector and ensure ICT systems at the standard of leading private sector companies.
Returning externally contracted ICT work and workers back into the APS, particularly where specific skill shortages have already been identified.
Stopping the ‘outsource first’ mentality, and instead utilising and building the expertise and knowledge of APS staff in the development and delivery of ICT systems.
Making the APS an employer of choice for ICT and digital workers through providing distinct career pathways, structured learning and development programs, and appropriate classification and remuneration scales embedded in enterprise agreements.45
Articulating the Government's approach to develop and acquire the skillsets required for the digital economy, in his evidence to the committee the Acting Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner, Mr Patrick Hetherington, stated:
What I would say about the digital economy and where we're going is that we're acutely aware of the sorts of skill sets that we need to grow into the future. You will have seen through our workforce strategy [APS Workforce Strategy 2025] that was released in March that we paid particular attention to the need to grow skills in the digital and data space in particular. In a sense we've backed that in through the development of professions around those particular skills. We've set up a digital profession, really focused on how you build and grow and maintain capability in the digital space in the public sector. Equally, we've set up one around the data skill set as well, looking to recruit, retain and grow skills and give people valuable careers in the public sector in those domains.46

A discussion of government procurement in the care sectors

The Commonwealth Government is responsible for numerous aspects of aged care, child care, and disability services in Australia, such as system design, funding, and commissioning.47 Organisations and individuals operating within these care sectors provide essential services to some of the most vulnerable groups within the Australian community. The Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) submitted that:
As citizens it is reasonable for us to be concerned about the manner in which public funds are used to deliver public services to vulnerable citizens, and to expect the Commonwealth to have a duty of care to both the recipients and the providers of those services while also being accountable for the appropriate and efficient use of those funds.
Hence, when it comes to the way that Commonwealth agencies design service systems, commission, contract, register, certify or otherwise provide oversight for those services, report on service outcomes and quality standards, it is fair and reasonable to expect them to ensure that working conditions are conducive to the delivery of quality care services and that workers are not being mistreated, exploited or subject to insecure work arrangements.48
Maurice Blackburn contended that providers operating in these sectors have two key commonalities: they are both heavily reliant on government subsidies provided to service users; and engage workforces comprised of vulnerable cohorts.49
A number of inquiry participants raised significant concerns regarding the Government's approach to the care sectors. For example, WACOSS argued that Australia lacks a clear policy and funding mechanism for assessing and responding to the growing demand for these services. It stated that services are 'effectively being rationed and service funding reduced in relation to the trust cost of care', despite clear evidence that these services are highly valued, and make a difference in the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for many people.50
Maurice Blackburn was concerned about the increased 'Uberisation' of the disability, aged care, and healthcare workforces, and submitted that employment arrangements within these sectors make them 'increasingly susceptible to sham contracting arrangements'.51 It also contended that:
Nowhere in the information provided to potential NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme] service providers does it mention any requirement that the organisation must have a good track record in satisfying employment and industrial relations requirements.
Less ethical employers are exploiting a marginalised workforce, through the provision of lesser wages and conditions.52
Maurice Blackburn concluded that chronic underfunding has led service providers to 'cut corners' in order to stay in business, and that, when combined with a workforce largely drawn from marginalised cohorts, has resulted in 'widespread cases of underpayment and exploitation'.53

Box 13.1:   Case study: The utilisation of Mable and Aspen Medical during the COVID 19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic there was a genuine need for surge workforces across the residential aged care sector, given that high numbers of staff were required to self-isolate and there were significant outbreaks across a number of nursing homes, such as Newmarch House in New South Wales.
To address this need, in April 2020 the Australian Government chose to implement a scheme to provide additional staffing to the aged care sector through the engagement of platform provider Mable and, if necessary, Aspen Medical. The Government allocated $5.77 million to fund the wage costs of workers sourced through Mable and up to $15.7 million to Aspen Medical to provide additional staff in the event of a significant outbreak.54
The Health Services Union submitted that the contract with Mable was awarded in a limited tender process and was available to Residential Aged Care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, and Home Care Package providers. It noted that the 'take up of Mable by providers was low', and attributed this in part due to the platform not having workers available in regional, rural, and remote areas.55 In conclusion it stated:
The decision by the Federal Government to contract and promote at this time Mable directly contradicts their own public health advice to limit movements and interaction with more people than necessary. It demonstrates the lack of understanding and absence of appetite to provide a workforce that is stable, sufficient in size and adequately supported through decent wages and conditions.56
Although welcoming the assistance provided by the Government to support residential aged care providers' access qualified staff to fill vacancies for shortterm COVID-19 related reasons, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) raised significant concern's with the approach the Government took. Specifically, in its submission to the inquiry it said the following:
In the case of both Mable and Aspen Medical, no alternative labour hire providers were funded nor offered to providers. If a provider needed to access additional staffing and receive funding, they were offered no choice of labour hire online service.
The Royal Commission heard extensive evidence about the risks of insecure work in aged care in relation to quality of care and the difficulties in recruiting and retaining suitably qualified and experienced staff in aged care. The ANMF is extremely concerned that the promotion of short-term labour hire staffing in aged care exacerbates those risks and problems.
Staff engaged through Mable are treated as “independent contractors”, which may be a legally questionable characterisation of their employment. It is up to workers who register with Mable to provide details of their qualifications and appropriate checks, such as proof of registration with Ahpra. While Mable advises checks will be conducted, this does create risk of unsuitable workers being engaged in aged care due to a lack of oversight.
The ANMF is also concerned that the Commonwealth Government has moved to promote this form of insecure work as an alternative to providers engaging ongoing workers directly. These would be workers who are familiar with the needs of residents, especially when there have been periods of limited access to nursing homes by families and friends. They are essential to providing quality and safe care.57
Professor Sara Charlesworth from RMIT University contended that the Royal Commission's special inquiry into COVID-19 had 'excoriated Mable'.58 In her evidence to the committee, she said the following:
Mable's staff were found to have been absolutely hopeless coming into Victorian aged-care facilities. They didn't know what they were doing. They had absolutely no experience. That was an unmitigated disaster. But I do think that, in terms of steps that can be put in place, the aged-care royal commission, Commissioner Briggs in particular, recommended that aged care workers be directly employed.59
Notwithstanding the above, the Chief Executive Officer of Mable, Mr Peter Scutt, submitted to the committee that:
We have a strong commitment to safeguarding the community that operate via Mable. There are a lot of checks and balances across the platform, including worker screening. But … the services being provided on Mable are very diverse. If you think about the NDIS, it's all about people being able to find the support they need to live an ordinary life—the sort of life you and I might take for granted. That can be everything from a young boy with autism looking to find a young support worker that shares his passion for sports and wants to go to football games on the weekend. It can be very diverse in nature.60
With regards to aged-care services, Professor Sara Charlesworth from RMIT contended that wages are, to a large extent, determined by government funding and procurement models. She stated that consumer-directed care was initially introduced to provide consumers with choice and to increase competition; however, she submitted that this approach has failed to increase wages and has 'led to a diminution of the quality of care'.61 On these points she went further:
There's been huge concern from the aged-care advocacy groups about what's happening under consumer directed care. In residential care, for example, there is no evidence that competition in the market provides higher wages or better quality employment. Rather, it's because the federal government, in its procurement of aged care, not only has provided relatively low amounts of funding that would allow the provision of decent wages and income but also has not insisted on any transparency of private providers. So, if we think of non-government providers, both in the for-profit sector and in the not-for-profit sector, particularly the large aged-care providers, there's an absolute lack of accountability or transparency about where funding goes. We simply don't know.62
In a 2018 report, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme noted that long-term workers in the disability support sector reported that 'working conditions have dramatically deteriorated under the NDIS'. It summarised their concerns as follows:
In short, they [long-term disability support workers] reported a rise in underemployment and insecure work arrangements, inadequate wages and no prospect of professional development opportunities. Under these conditions, it is hard to imagine how to retain highly experienced and qualified workers and attract new workers, including young people entering the workforce.63
The National Secretary of the Health Services Union, Mr Lloyd Williams, highlighted the importance of having a quality, secure, and responsive workforce to deliver vital care to those requiring it, submitting that it 'is what makes a difference to their lives'. He concluded that:
Health, aged and disability sectors are leading job creators and government must be doing more to ensure they are good secure jobs that deliver quality care outcomes.64

Summary and concluding comments

This chapter has provided a discussion of Commonwealth procurement policy and the impacts it has on job security. It has highlighted the CPRs, issues around data collection, and the potential to utilise procurement policies to promote economic and social objectives. Two alternative frameworks, utilised by the Victorian and ACT Governments, were also discussed.
Key issues with government procurement within the ICT and care sectors were examined, and the various concerns raised by inquiry participants with the Government's current approach to outsourcing were discussed.
The next chapter, Chapter 14, discusses the National Broadband Network, while Chapter 15 brings together the content covered in chapters 11, 12, 13, and 14, and provides a discussion on potential reforms, and the committee's views and recommendations on these matters.

  • 1
    AusTender is the Australian Government's procurement information system. It provides a centralised publication of various opportunities, annual procurement plans, and contracts which have been awarded. For further information, see:
  • 2
    Department of Finance, Procurement, (accessed 23 September 2021)
  • 3
    Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 16.
  • 4
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 40.
  • 5
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 8.
  • 6
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 7.
  • 7
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 45.
  • 8
    Commonwealth Procurement Rules govern how Government entities buy goods and services. For more information, see:
  • 9
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 7.
  • 10
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 39.
  • 11
    Department of Finance, Procurement, (accessed 22 September 2021).
  • 12
    Department of Finance, Commonwealth Procurement Rules: Foreword, (accessed 22 September 2021).
  • 13
    ANAO, AuditorGeneral Report No. 27 2019–20: Australian Government Procurement Contracting Report Update, p. 7.
  • 14
    Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), Submission 13, p. 24.
  • 15
    WEstjustice, Submission 12, p. 4.
  • 16
    The Australia Institute, Submission 41, p. 19.
  • 17
    Jesuit Social Services, Submission 91, p. 8.
  • 18
    Victorian Trades Hall Council, Submission 31, [pp. 8–9].
  • 19
    Unions NSW, Submission 78, p. 18.
  • 20
    Unions NSW, Submission 78, pp. 18–19.
  • 21
    South Coast Labour Council, Submission 82, [p. 4].
  • 22
    Kingsford Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre, Submission 91, p. 21.
  • 23
    Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Submission 98, p. 36.
  • 24
    Victorian Government, Introduction to the Social Procurement Framework, (accessed 24 September 2021).
  • 25
    Victorian Government, Introduction to the Social Procurement Framework, (accessed 24 September 2021).
  • 26
    VCOSS, Submission 13, p. 24.
  • 27
    Jesuit Social Services, Submission 91, p. 8.
  • 28
    Victorian Government, Supplier Code of Conduct, (accessed 24 September 2021).
  • 29
    Victorian Government, Supplier Code of Conduct, (accessed 24 September 2021).
  • 30
    Australian Institute of Employment Rights, Submission 6, p. 52.
  • 31
    Victorian Government, Local Jobs First, (accessed 24 September 2021).
  • 32
    Victorian Government, Submission 16, p. 30.
  • 33
    ACT Government, Submission 49, pp. 12–14. Further information on each of these five aspects of the ACT Government's procurement framework can be found on pages 12 to 14 of submission 49 (ACT Government) available on the committee's website.
  • 34
    VCOSS, Submission 13, p. 24.
  • 35
    WEstjustice, Submission 12: Attachment 2, pp. 54–55.
  • 36
    Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), Our Public Service, Our Future: Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, p. 145.
  • 37
    PM&C, Our Public Service, Our Future: Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, p. 145.
  • 38
    Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), Submission 102, p. 44.
  • 39
    CPSU, Submission 102, pp. 44–45.
  • 40
    PM&C, Our Public Service, Our Future: Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, p. 145.
  • 41
    PM&C, Our Public Service, Our Future: Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, p. 158.
  • 42
    CPSU, Submission 102, pp. 54–55.
  • 43
    CPSU, Submission 102, p. 50. For further information on the ICT Taskforce report, please see:
  • 44
    Digital Transformation Agency, Report of the ICT Procurement Taskforce, 2017, pp. 45–46.
  • 45
    CPSU, Submission 102, p. 8.
  • 46
    Mr Patrick Hetherington, Acting Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner, APSC, Proof Committee Hansard, 27 August 2021, p. 8.
  • 47
    Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS), Submission 118, p. 20.
  • 48
    WACOSS, Submission 118, p. 20.
  • 49
    Maurice Blackburn, Submission 17, p. 24.
  • 50
    WACOSS, Submission 118, p. 20.
  • 51
    Maurice Blackburn, Submission 17, pp. 24–25.
  • 52
    Maurice Blackburn, Submission 17, p. 25.
  • 53
    Maurice Blackburn, Submission 17, p. 24.
  • 54
    Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Submission 27, pp. 12–13.
  • 55
    Health Services Union (HSU), Submission 84, p. 10.
  • 56
    HSU, Submission 84, p. 10.
  • 57
    ANMF, Submission 27, p. 13.
  • 58
    Professor Sara Charlesworth, RMIT University, Proof Committee Hansard, 19 April 2021, p. 30.
  • 59
    Professor Charlesworth, RMIT University, Proof Committee Hansard, 19 April 2021, p. 30.
  • 60
    Mr Peter Scutt, Chief Executive Officer, Mable, Proof Committee Hansard, 12 April 2021, p. 41.
  • 61
    Professor Charlesworth, RMIT University, Proof Committee Hansard, 19 April 2021, pp. 25–26.
  • 62
    Professor Charlesworth, RMIT University, Proof Committee Hansard, 19 April 2021, p. 26.
  • 63
    Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Market readiness for provision of services under the NDIS, September 2018, p. 45.
  • 64
    Mr Lloyd Williams, National Secretary, HSU, Proof Committee Hansard, 13 April 2021, p. 9.

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