The timber workers union has slammed the Victorian Government for doing nothing about a plan to import timber from Germany for the Metro Tunnel project’s ‘ANZAC station’ at Domain.
The union believes that companies like Australian Sustainable Hardwoods at Heyfield have been unfairly left out of the bidding process.
The union called on the Government to act in April but rather than intervene to protect Victorian jobs, the Government accepted self-serving advice that local supply is not feasible.
The union has subsequently written to the Minister for Public Transport (Minister Jacinta Allan) urging her to trigger a probity investigation into the procurement decision.
“This decision absolutely reeks, and we are deeply suspicious about the advice the Government has received,” said CFMEU Manufacturing National Secretary Michael Connor.
“If the Government is serious about supporting local jobs, they will trigger a probity investigation under the Project Agreement about what has gone on.
“Our members, their families and communities expect their Government to stand up for them and not parrot the objections to local supply by big business.”
Under the $14 billion majority taxpayer funded Metro Tunnel Project Agreement, the Government can order a probity investigation following anything which has or may have a material adverse effect on, or on the perception of, the character, integrity or honesty of a Group Member, Consortium Member or a Relevant Person or may have a material adverse effect on the public interest, or public confidence, in the Project.
Under the Project Agreement a probity investigation can result in the Government refusing to approve a subcontract.
Opposition Assistant Minister for Forestry Gary Blackwood outlined in the Victorian parliament his understanding that the timber canopy planned to be sourced by the Cross Yarra Partnership Consortium (CYP) “…Does not meet the mandatory specifications outlined in the tender documents which suggests that the specifications have been changed allowing European suppliers to offer a cheaper rate”.
Mr Blackwood’s intervention followed the union writing to Minister Allan in May calling for an independent assessment of local industry capability to deliver the project in time and on budget and any perceived barriers to this outcome as outlined by CYP, Rail Projects Victoria or the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority.
“ANZAC station is still a hole in the ground and there is still plenty of time for the Government to do the right thing by local workers, their families and their communities,” Mr O’Connor said.