Government procurement practices are costing Kiwi workers their jobs, Green Party MP Sue Bradford said today.
“The Army's decision to allow a $2 million clothing contract with Levin-based company Swazi to shift to China highlights the gross inadequacy of Government procurement practices,” said Ms Bradford, who championed the Government's Buy Kiwi Made programme in the last term of Parliament.
“On the eve of the Employment Summit it is hugely ironic that the Defence Force is signing off on a contract which will undermine workers' jobs and the viability of a small business that has loyally supported its staff and the Levin community for 15 years.”
Complications with the contractual arrangements do not affect the Defence Force’s ability to have the final say in whether the $2 million clothing contract will stay in New Zealand or be outsourced to China, according to Ms Bradford.
“This move is a stab in the back for Davey Hughes and his company who have maintained jobs in Levin despite intense pressure to move offshore as so many other clothing manufacturers have done,” Ms Bradford said.
The Green Party has called on the Government and the Defence Force to do everything possible to maintain and support local procurement.
“Tomorrow's Jobs Summit is supposed to be about how we keep people in work.”
Ms Bradford noted that, in the United States, President Obama has made his 'Buy America' a centrepiece of his recovery package.
US defence forces are required to buy 100% American: “The cradle of the free market believes in protecting its local manufacturers — we should do the same.”
The Green Party hopes that this episode will trigger an urgent review of Government procurement practices and policies.
“While we are aware of the constraints of the WTO and free trade agreements we have with China and Australia, we believe that our Government could do more to encourage and support local procurement.”
“The fact that we're heading into a time of recession makes such a review more urgent than ever.”