Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:14): (2075) My adjournment matter is for the Assistant Treasurer, and the action I seek relates to government procurement. Recently I visited Etiko clothing in Brunswick on Sydney Road. It is part of our office’s ‘F*** fast fashion’ campaign. The campaign is highlighting the unsustainable textile waste in Australia, and the primary solutions are pretty simple: buy local; buy ethical; buy less; and stitch, don’t ditch. Etiko are a champion in these areas, and I was really pleased to meet with Nick Savaidis and his team to discuss their wonderful sustainable practices. There is no child labour, no underpaid workers, no wrecking of the environment, and they are completely transparent in their supply chains.
It is an issue that we can address as individual consumers by buying ethically, but it is also an issue that we can tackle in a bigger way at the procurement level. As we know, staff in various branches in departments and statutory authorities are wearing workplace uniforms, and it is this area where the government can have the greatest impact.
Unfortunately in this tender space price still seems to be king, and Etiko related to me how they went for a tender process with another couple of local businesses. They are a social enterprise, they are a local business and yet the winner of that tender was an international company that did not have ethical practices, and it would appear that the price was what won the bid. Despite what the government is saying about procurement, it is not acting on this and we are not supporting our local manufacturers. So the action I seek is that the minister expand our procurement rules around social enterprise and local manufacturing to include ethical sourcing of clothing as well. But also could they explain a little bit further to my office how businesses like Etiko could be more successful in the tender process?
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 18/8/22
Procurement policies apply to Victorian Government departments and agencies that foster social enterprise, local manufacturing and ethical sourcing of uniforms and personal protective equipment.
Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework defines social and sustainable procurement as a key part of government procurement. For government buyers, the framework provides guidance to embed social and sustainable procurement into existing procurement processes. The framework applies to all of Victoria’s procurement activity and covers goods, services, and construction. The framework increases job opportunities for under-represented groups, increasing market access for social enterprises and provides greater support for businesses that prioritise social impact alongside the delivery of competitively priced, high-quality construction projects, goods and services.
All Victorian Government departments and agencies must buy uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) manufactured locally and ethically, whenever possible, for Victorian Government employees. The Guide to procuring uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) sets out the rules that apply when procuring uniforms and PPE. Under the policy it is a requirement that locally manufactured uniforms and PPE must be bought from suppliers registered on the Ethical Supplier Register. The registered suppliers have (or are in the process of having) their local manufacturing supply chain ethically accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia or verified by an independent third party. The accreditation assures buyers that registered suppliers comply with relevant labour laws relating to wages, awards and working conditions.
It is recommended that suppliers of uniforms and PPE that adopt ethical employment practices in the local manufacture of uniforms and personal protective equipment apply to Ethical Clothing Australia for accreditation and to be listed on the Ethical Supplier Register. Government buyers look to suppliers on the Ethical Supplier Register to meet the requirements of the policy.
Compliance with the policy is monitored by the Uniforms Monitor within the Department of Treasury and Finance. The Uniforms Monitor engages with and advises government buyers, promotes local sources of supply, investigates and responds to complaints, and manages the Ethical Supplier Register. The Monitor can be contacted on Uniforms&PPEMonitor@dtf.vic.gov.au.
More information is available on the Buying for Victoria website.
The Hon. Danny Pearson MP