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Buy Local

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 27 August 2020

Tags: Jobs, Economy

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, when I saw the subject for the matter of public importance debate today and that it was brought on by our newest member, the member for Braddon, Mr Ellis, I was looking forward to having a debate about something everyone in the House could, in large measure, agree on. That is, it is really important we buy local and support local businesses. While I am on my feet, Mr Ellis, your inaugural speech yesterday was the finest I have witnessed, so well done and welcome to the House.

Mr Ferguson - Hear, hear.

Ms O'CONNOR - The Greens absolutely support the Buy Local policy. I think Mr Ellis said we send truffles to France. We also send tulips to Amsterdam. There is no question that Tasmania has what the world wants and we need to look after this place. Much of what it is about Tasmania that the world wants comes down to our brand - the fact that we are clean, green, clever, creative and connected. It is part of who we are.

It is increasingly important in this time of COVID-19 that we all do everything we can to support local businesses, local enterprises, restaurants, and visit parts of the state some of us have never been to before, although most of us have seen much of this beautiful island.

We have an enormous capacity locally in products, innovation and advanced manufacturing on the north-west coast. As we come out of the pandemic it is not going to be a rapid return to social and economic health, so the more we can invest in local businesses, the better off we will all be and the better off our children will be.

As we have said in here before, we have twin crises coming at Tasmania. We have the pandemic, which we are in the middle of, and we have a climate emergency happening. We need to turn our lemons into lemonade and have a look at the future through the lens of resilience and self-sufficiency.

We cannot continue to be an island that brings so much on island. It is important that we export but we need to be an island that makes stuff and supports local manufacturing. We need to be an island that to the greatest extent possible is self-sufficient. I noted in Mr Ellis' speech yesterday that he started to sound a bit like a secessionist towards the end. I got a flutter in my heart because I think there is a little bit of the secessionist in us all as proud Tasmanians.

I took the opportunity this morning to find some of the paperwork on the Government's Buy Local policy. Points to Government for introducing a Buy Local policy in 2014, but there have been some shifts in the application of the policy. The first Treasurer's Instruction that we can find, which is the Buy Local Policy for Goods and Services on 20 August 2018, which was the date it became effective, says it provides for the application of mandatory procurement planning requirements as well as the introduction of a local benefits test and industry participation plans in government purchasing. This is for all procurement processes in relation to the purchase of goods and/or services with a value of more than $50 000. It also says an agency must complete a pre-procurement local impact assessment to ensure local suppliers are given every opportunity. It has to be approved by the head of agency or a duly authorised delegate for procurements valued less than $250 000.

That Treasurer's Instruction was withdrawn on 1 July last year. This Treasurer's Instruction, which came into effect on 25 March 2019 for the Buy Local Policy for Building and Construction of Roads and Bridges, says that for all procurement processes in relation to building and construction of roads and bridges projects with a value of $250 000 or more for building and construction works, $500 000 or more for roads and bridges works, or more than $50 000 for building and construction consultancies. That Treasurer's Instruction was withdrawn on 1 July last year.

Now we have the Treasurer's Instruction under the Financial Management Act which came into effect on 21 February this year which requires agencies to undertake government procurement in a manner that is consistent with the following four principles: value for money - and that is where sometimes it can become a bit tricky to have a hard-line Buy Local policy; open, impartial and effective communication; providing local suppliers that wish to do business with government with the opportunity to do so through the adoption of the Buy Local policy requirements; and now we have the Buy Local policy which has been put out by the Department of Treasury and Finance. The policy applies to agencies required to comply with the Treasurer's Instructions issued under section 51 of the Financial Management Act.

The Buy Local policy is, in significant measure, less prescriptive than the original Treasurer's Instructions. I suspect what has happened here is that, with the best of intention, government delivered Treasurer's Instructions to guide agencies about how they procure goods and services but also capital works, construction works and roads and bridges. It is quite prescriptive and it became very difficult for agencies to adhere to the Treasurer's Instructions for Buy Local so they were withdrawn. There has been a more expansive approach to Buy Local, and less prescriptive, which possibly gives agencies more flexibility in buying local or not. I thought that was an interesting move away from hard-line Buy Local procurement requirements into something far less prescriptive.

Madam Deputy Speaker, in closing, I reinforce the importance of making sure that our young people have the skills of the future. We are looking at an employment scenario in which there will be a whole lot of jobs we have not even foreseen and we need to teach our kids to take the jobs robots cannot.