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May 14, 2015

The Minister for Finance has released a statement which indicates a ‘competitive tender process’ will be undertaken over the next 12 to 18 months to test the market on the capacity of a private operator to upgrade and operate the ASIC registry.

ASIC performs a vital function for Australia’s economy by maintaining a transparent and efficient database of businesses and companies, and the Traralgon-based staff provide an outstanding service to our nation.  I commend the ASIC staff and strongly support them in their ongoing employment in Traralgon.

As a member of The Nationals, I’m a strong believer in the decentralisation of public sector jobs whenever it is feasible and ASIC staff have made a valuable social and economic contribution to the Latrobe Valley for more than 20 years.

By way of background: in the 2014 budget, the Federal Government announced a ‘scoping study’ into the operations of the ASIC business register and several other Commonwealth-owned organisations.

Over the past year, I’ve made written submissions and met with the Minister on two occasions. I also arranged for a delegation of Latrobe City Council representatives to meet with the Minister to discuss local community concerns.

In those meetings, the focus has been on job security and maintaining the integrity of the registry.

I understand the critical importance of local jobs to the future growth and prosperity of our community. I met with the Minister’s office again this week and I have sought further assurances regarding ongoing employment from the Minister on behalf of workers and their families.

It has been put to me in those discussions that if the privatisation goes ahead there is the very real prospect of expanded operations and increased employment opportunities in the Latrobe Valley. It is premature to be talking about job losses.

In a letter to me announcing his decision this week, the Minister acknowledged the jobs issue as follows:

“I understand that you and your constituents may have concerns about the potential impact that the government’s decision could have on employment in the Latrobe Valley region. I would like to assure you that any negotiation with a new private sector provider will include discussion about employment in the region. In addition, my department, in conjunction with the Treasury and ASIC, will ensure that ASIC employees are kept fully informed and treated in a fair manner throughout the entire process.”

I’m not in a position to pre-empt the competitive tender process but I give an undertaking to do everything in my power to protect local jobs and seek increased employment opportunities for local residents.

I will continue to work with Latrobe City Council and interested local residents to secure the best possible outcome for our region as the competitive tender process is undertaken.


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