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December 5, 2021

Gov’t backflip as NORCO regains milk contract for hospitals

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It appears all the major parties are now trying to claim credit for Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s and HealthShare NSW’s backflip on the supply of milk to north coast hospitals being returned to local dairy cooperative NORCO.

According to Health Services Union (HSU) NSW secretary Gerard Hayes ‘It was HSU members at Lismore Base Hospital who initially blew the whistle on the loss of the NORCO contract to more than 16 local health facilities’ earlier this week.

‘When health workers first raised the issue, it was dismissed by the Member for Lismore, Thomas George MP.

Since then however, the public response has been overwhelming, and an HSU on-line petition attracted over 3,000 signatures in just a matter of hours.’

However, Member for Lismore, Thomas George, said he had been working behind the scenes with Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard to have the HealthShare NSW contract overturned.

Is the cheapest the best?

Mr Haynes also highlighted the need for the tender process to ‘factor in the multiplier benefits associated with keeping business in NSW.’

‘The cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best, especially if it means money going offshore and jobs being lost in local communities. The state government should be ensuring that taxpayer’s money is used wisely to generate the best return for NSW,’ he said.

Recognising the desire for the local community to support the local dairy industry in Northern NSW Mr George said he has had ‘meetings with minister for finance, services and property, Victor Dominello, to discuss the opportunity for the government to give a weighting when it comes to local businesses applying for government contracts.’

Claiming credit

While the NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has said that ‘The Nationals cannot – in good conscience – take a victory lap; this is about the community stopping a bad state government decision,’ local Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin has said that ‘Media stunts like the one we have seen by NSW Labor this week do not deliver any outcomes for our community. The real work is done behind the scenes.’

However, it is local Labor candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh who demonstrated the most grace by saying ‘Congratulations to the Health Services Union and local hospital staff for standing up against this terrible decision and winning.’

‘This is a victory for people power. Our community has shown its strong support for local jobs and our local farmer owned businesses. The response on social media has been magnificent.’

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  1. The term “people power” was coined for those in the Philippines and other countries who overturned corrupt Marcos and other dictatorships. This is nothing of the kind. A procurement decision was made in the best interests of the people of NSW and overturned by populist pressure in a blatantly political decision. The loss to the people of NSW in any one case like this is small. But the principle of open procurement reducing waste in spending us all.

    Much was made particular by Pugh on the foreign ownership of this firm but he has not answered my question of him as to wether it is Australian Labor policy to prefer Australian firms. How can the Commonwealth to argue for access to far more lucrative markets for our dairy and other products when parochial politicians like Pugh are making Trumpesque commentary on foreign owned firms? And what will Pugh and Secord say if he QLD government decides to apply similar discrimination against NSW forms? How would the health sector unions feel if their approach were extended to employment contracts, so a Tweed Heads nurse could not work in a QLD hospital?

    There are no winners in parochialism – as Trump is showing we all loose.


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