Four of the candidates in the upcoming Dubbo Regional Council election have signed a pledge to oppose privatisation and outsourcing.
Country Labor candidates for the East ward, Stephen Lawrence and Cody Jones, and Central ward nominee Kris Stevens were the first to sign the pledge, after announcing their intention to do so on Sunday.
“The United Services Union has put out a pledge, and asked all candidates standing in council elections to sign the pledge,” Mr Lawrence said.
“It commits candidates elected to council to oppose privatisation in the term of council and oppose outsourcing of jobs, as well as making a commitment to the principal of supporting local jobs.”
The candidates encouraged other council nominees to also sign the pledge and on Monday morning Central ward candidate John Ryan signed his name.
Mr Lawrence and Ms Stevens accused Ben Shields and his team of favouring privatisation and outsourcing.
“I believe local government should focus on community prosperity, not just the potential to save a few dollars,” Ms Stevens said.
“The Ben Shields party are Liberal-aligned. It stands to reason if Ben Shields’ team dominate our next Dubbo Regional Council, they will be driving a campaign towards the privatisation of services.”
Mr Shields was dismissive of the allegation. He said he had been a fierce opponent of a plan to sell Dubbo Caravan Park when he was a member of Dubbo City Council, and said it was about finding the best outcome for ratepayers.
“Anyone who suggests the issue of outsourcing is black and white is naive and financially irresponsible.
“There are times when there is a need to outsource tenders and contracts because it delivers better outcomes.
“This isn’t about Liberal and Labor, this is about getting the best value for ratepayers.”
Ben Shields team East ward candidate Dayne Gumley said the pledge was an unrealistic approach to a complex issue.
“There are times when it is cheaper to pave a road using private contractors rather than council staff,” he said.
“Making use of private contractors doesn’t mean council jobs are lost, there is the ability to use both.”
The pledge requires candidates to commit to:
- Keeping local council jobs local
- Maintaining core council services using council labour
- Rejecting the use of labour hire contractors
- Opposing outsourcing and privatising of council services
- Supporting increased employment protection
- Ensuring the provision of ongoing training to council workforce
- Supporting the procurement of Australian products