Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

School Cleaners Contract

Contracted Cleaner

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 12:50 :41 ): I regret to say that this apparently well-intentioned motion that has been moved by the member from Wallsend has a disingenuous foundation. In New South Wales Government cleaning services were outsourced to the private sector as long ago as 1994 following a transition from the Government Cleaning Service. It requires a story based on a previous generation of cleaners to try and make some point about the renewal of the current contract. Cleaning contracts were tendered and awarded to the private sector by the Carr Labor Government in 1999 and again in 2006 before the current contract was put in place in 2011. Neither the existence of private sector cleaning contracts nor the fact that they are renewed should be a surprise to the Labor Party because Labor entered into those contracts as the government of this State on two occasions—in 1999 and 2006.

Labor was content to engage the private sector to perform this work when in government, but, as often happens in this place, pretends what the Coalition Government is doing is something different to what they would do, if they were in government. Labor should not pretend to unions from which it seeks funding for its election campaign in 2019 that Labor would do anything different. Labor's past performance in relation to this matter in 1999 and 2006 is the best guide to their future actions. Another example in which the Labor Opposition pretended it would do something different from this Government's policy includes the Land and Property Information [LPI] concession to a private operator. After Labor kept misinforming the public on how bad and dangerous the Government's policy was, the State Labor Governments in Victoria and South Australia quickly did exactly the same as our Government did and let their Government's concession to private operators for its land title services. Many would be unaware that, without any public complaints whatsoever, the LPI private operator has been running the New South Wales concession since the middle of last year.

Mr Clayton Barr: Point of order: I am conscious of the time. My point of order relates to Standing Order 76. The motion is about school cleaners. It is not about the LPI.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Mr Greg Aplin ): The member will confine his remarks to the leave of the motion.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: I am addressing the motion and the renewal of a private contract by the Government. Nobody has had to take out title insurance with regard to the LPI concession, as was dishonestly suggested.

Mr Clayton Barr: Point of order: I take the very same point of order. Mr Temporary Speaker, you just made a ruling. The member is flouting that ruling.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Mr Greg Aplin ): The member is attempting to address the leave of the motion. I will listen further.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: The Government has a long and extensive history of supporting the rights of cleaners and other workers. The Coalition Government provided employment guarantees when cleaning services were first outsourced to the private sector in 1994. Since that time, contracted companies have provided a reliable and quality service to keep our schools and other public buildings clean and well maintained. Approximately 6,300 cleaners are employed in permanent, part-time or casual roles to service the current facilities' management contracts. These cleaners are employed directly by cleaning providers, not by the Government. This should not be any surprise to the member for Wallsend. No doubt if she has attended her local schools and spoken to the principals, she would be aware of that. I am sure that the member for Wallsend would be aware that a private contractor cleans her electorate office.

The whole of the New South Wales Government's facilities management is the contract under which cleaning services are delivered to approximately 4,200 sites in New South Wales, which include government schools, TAFE colleges, courthouses, government offices and essential services buildings such as ambulance, police and fire stations. The Government is focused on ensuring the new cleaning contract delivers value for money for the people of New South Wales. That is accomplished through facilities management practices that not only are innovative but also reflect market norms and provide both large and small-to-medium enterprise providers with the opportunity to participate. This provides opportunities for disadvantaged members of our community because it includes Aboriginal businesses, thereby creating jobs for Indigenous Australians.

Following a two-stage procurement process, broad consultation with cleaners and feedback from stakeholders, the Government has agreed to continue with the current principles in the existing contract. That means that cleaners' rights are fully protected. If my word is not accepted on the matter, I invite members to do something I rarely do: Look at the union website and see what United Voice has to say. In a post on 12 February 2018, United Voice said that the job security of cleaners has been guaranteed. The New South Wales Government has had a long history of supporting the rights and entitlements of cleaners and workers, having guaranteed their entitlements under private contracts for the past 20 years. While the Government considers its next step in the procurement of the new cleaning contract, it has secured an eight-month contract extension with the current service providers to 1 March 2019. The extension will ensure that there will be no disruption to service delivery and will provide job security and peace of mind for cleaners up until that date and beyond.

The Government will continue to consult with stakeholders and remains committed to ensuring the new contract will deliver value for money for taxpayers and improved service levels across the State. The Government already has awarded eight new facilities management contracts to deliver maintenance services to approximately 3,000 government sites across the State. Those new contracts have saved the Government $60 million over the term of the contracts. Efficiency and value for money is not an end in itself, but that $60 million will provide more services for the people in this State. Cleaners perform important work that is valued by the Government and critical to the running of New South Wales schools. The Government will ensure that that continues in the future.

Mr CLAYTON BARR ( Cessnock ) ( 12:54 :18 ): I recognised a number of accuracies in the member for Ku-ring-gai's contribution relating to when cleaning was tendered out, renewed and renewed again. All those details and dates are absolutely spot-on. That was something that was done by the previous Labor Government. Motions take quite a while to come before Parliament after being notified.

Mr Damien Tudehope: Then withdraw it.

Mr Alister Henskens: Congratulate us.