The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on the Andrews Government to rescind its new Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) dry cleaning contracts which unfairly punishes regional small business.
Prior to Christmas, dry cleaners in Moe, Morwell and Traralgon were blindsided when their contracts to launder uniforms, were cancelled by FRV.
In State Parliament yesterday Ms Bath described the Andrews Labor Government sanctioned directive to cancel regional dry cleaners’ contracts as shameful.
“Labor’s disgraceful decision eats away at the heart of regional small businesses.
“Our local dry cleaning contracts have been now been handed to a United Firefighter Union (UFU) endorsed contractor in Melbourne.”
Citing contamination in relation to personal protective clothing, the Andrews Government has been accused of abandoning regional businesses that have provided exemplary services for many years.
This week in state parliament, the Minister for Emergency Services said the cancelled contracts were for personal protective clothing (PPC) and “how you decommission it, a local dry cleaner cannot meet that standard.”
Ms Bath said the cancelled contracts were not for not PPC as the Minister stated, but were for non-operational day wear uniforms, slacks and shirts.
“One Latrobe Valley family business has been laundering CFA day uniforms for 60 years without issue.
“The excuse of potentially contaminated PPC uniform is false and convenient rhetoric for Labor to hide behind.
“The fact is Labor has endorsed a decision to withdraw services from regional towns where 38 former integrated stations, now FRV stations operate.”
The loss to small businesses from across regional Victoria range between $8,000 to 18,000 per annum.
Ms Bath said the Andrews Government has also ignored its own local procurement policies.
“My constituents know it is sham when a UFU Bulletin boasted the Melbourne based service will provide “quicker turnaround times for dry cleaning, said Ms Bath.
“Latrobe Valley drycleaners can turn around uniforms in 4 hours. Under this new arrangement the clothes would have barely made to the Melbourne depot in that time.
“Once again Labor’s policy represents only lines on a page and not a commitment to rural and regional Victorian communities.”
“Shockingly one regional dry cleaning business asked the FRV Apparel Officer if they could tender, only to be told “you couldn’t afford it”.
“Minister Neville must reverse this appalling decision and give the local dry cleaners a chance to tender for the contracts at a local level,” Ms Bath said.