‘Bad decision’: Victorian govt commits to partly privatise VicRoads

Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

The Victorian government has ploughed ahead with its plan to “part-privatise” key elements of VicRoads, with the public sector union branding it a “bad decision” that will only benefit the winning bidder.

In March this year the state government announced it had made an “in-principle decision” to pursue a “joint-venture model” for some of VicRoads’ core functions, including registrations, licences and custom plates.

Image credit: Shutterstock/Kevin Wells Photography

This will see a private company rebuilding and running VicRoads’ troubled IT system for as long as the next 40 years, and would mark the first time that an Australian jurisdiction has partnered with the private sector to perform these functions.

The Victorian government has now confirmed that it will be going ahead with this plan following a detailed scoping study, and has opened up expressions of interest from the private sector, with plans for a superannuation fund and tech company to team up to take on the work.

This partnership will “operate the relevant functions of registrations and licensing, while modernising the IT system, promoting innovation, and enhancing customer experience through increased investment”, the state government said.

“All Victorians benefit from the hard work performed by VicRoads workers and at every step we’ll ensure these employees’ rights and entitlements are protected and jobs remain secure,” Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said.

“This is new ground for a motor registry and I’m excited to see what the private sector can bring to this partnership, and in the best interest of the employees and the community.”

The Victorian government has promised that all employees currently working for VicRoads on these functions will be able to continue in these roles on terms and conditions that are “no less favourable”, and that an in-principle agreement has been reached with the Australian Services Union (ASU) on this.

But the ASU is still staunchly opposed to the privatisation of VicRoads.

“The privatisation of VicRoads is a bad decision – it was a bad decision when announced, and it’s still a bad decision,” ASU assistant secretary Leon Wiegard told InnovationAus.

“The ASU has been able to make some improvements to the future conditions of workers at VicRoads who have been abandoned by the Andrews Government. Even taking into account the gains negotiated by ASU officials and workplace delegates, workers at VicRoads will be worse off in the long run.

“Only private companies will benefit from the privatisation of VicRoads. The Andrews Government can’t prevent itself as worker-friendly while treating VicRoads workers the way they have been treated.”

While the expression of interest EOI has not been posted publicly by the Victorian government, it is available by emailing a specifically created Morgan Stanley email address. The government is looking for an “established, mature and trusted provider to modernise a number of VicRoads services to make them more user-friendly for motorists and deliver value for money for Victorians”.

The registration and licencing functions of VicRoads involves a register of more than six million operators and five million driver’s licence holders.

It’s not the first time the state has looked to replace the ageing VicRoads systems, with the RandL project scrapped in 2015 at a loss of $97 million.

While Victoria is looking to bring in a private company for this job, the NSW government has instead moved its own registration and licencing responsibilities to within Services NSW, and has also launched digital versions of driver’s licences.

Applications for the new expression of interest notice close on 18 October.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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