By Michael Giles

ULTIMATELY, it’s probably a good thing that the Australian Services Union (ASU) has weighed into the aged and disability service issue in South Gippsland and in so doing, escalated the language in the debate.
They no doubt believe they have good reason for scaring our local elderly in their homes with comments about the shire being prepared to “boot them” out of the service, making a “disgraceful decision” to “save a few bucks” at the expense of the “most vulnerable people in our community” and “robbing service users of the quality care they are provided with by a very dedicated staff”.
Let’s hope so anyway.
Because it might be an opportunity to investigate why the shire hasn’t decided to put in “a genuine bid for an in-house service delivery” option.
We’re told by people in the know at the shire that one of the main reasons why the shire hasn’t decided to try and compete for clients under the Commonwealth Government’s new funding arrangements is that the unions have driven local government wages up so high that they can’t compete in the real world.
As we’ve said before, it’s Dracula in charge of the blood bank.
Councils have long since been barred from playing any role in local government EBA negotiations and regardless of the community’s capacity to pay or levels of productivity achieved, their wages and generous conditions have continued to go up, and up and up.
It has been claimed that these unrealistic wage levels will eventually eat into service delivery in important areas and perhaps we are seeing the evidence of that here.
At least that’s what we have been led to believe.
So, what really is the situation?
Have the local government employee unions aided and abetted the situation where local government employees have priced themselves out of the market to supply services under the new regime of aged and disability care or is that just a smoke screen.
Is this, the first opportunity to compare wages paid in the Victorian local government sector with rates paid to those delivering similar services in the restructured health sector all too revealing? Or is it all untrue.
Perhaps the ASU would like to provide a summary of the wage and salary packages paid to their members in the Local Government sector and contrast them with the salaries paid to those doing similar work elsewhere in the community.
Maybe then we could see if they actually share some of the responsibility themselves for the situation that our “vulnerable” elderly and disabled find themselves in due to the impending funding arrangements change.
Maybe then we might see why the South Gippsland Shire Council is moving so early, hoping that all of their clients, and as many of their employees as possible, are picked up and bedded down with a reputable local service provider that will be prepared to take on, not only the easy-to-access town dwellers but also the more remote residents in need.
Let’s hear the full story from the ASU not just a pretext for a membership drive at the expense of the anxiety levels of grandparents and friends in need.