Labor hangs Gippsland dry cleaners out to dry

Gippsland dry cleaning businesses are angry and in despair after the Andrews Government ditched the local laundering of Ambulance Victoria uniforms.

Labor’s new state-wide procurement policy has signalled the end of Gippsland businesses washing and sanitising uniforms for their local stations.

Under Labor’s new policy, ambulance uniforms are collected from local stations, trucked hundreds of kilometres, cleaned and shipped back.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said it was disgraceful that Gippsland dry cleaners are again being hung out to dry by the Andrews Government’s callous procurement practices.

“For 10, 20 and in some cases 30 years, Gippsland dry cleaners have expertly washed uniforms for their local staff providing the highest standard under agreement with Ambulance Victoria – however, without explanation during a pandemic, Labor has stripped them of business.

“Our hardworking dry cleaners have been put through the ringer by Daniel Andrews for a second time in a year – first it was Fire Rescue Victoria uniforms, now its Ambulance Victoria uniforms.

“The significant increase in vehicle emissions created by the unnecessary long transportation of uniforms leaves a huge carbon footprint – Labor’s contract is neither environmentally or economically responsible.”

Speaking with Gippsland dry cleaners, Ms Bath said the Andrews Government has not displayed a grain of courtesy by informing them of the cancellation of their service agreements, instead leaving it to apologetic ambulance officers to break the sad news.

“It is infuriating to witness the cruel and unnecessary distress Labor has inflicted on local employers, particularly at a time when successive lockdowns are squeezing the life out of these once profitable businesses.

“Labor is punishing those local businesses that support our towns in jobs and sponsorships.

“The Andrews Government’s procurement policy is killing off small businesses in Gippsland – a provider operating outside the region will never support our local community groups.”

Ms Bath said state government procurement policies are supposed to adhere to the ‘The Local Jobs First Policy’, designed to support Victorian businesses and workers, but clearly it is all spin.

“Labor has an obligation to ensure small and medium size enterprises are given a full and fair opportunity to compete for government contracts – but this tender was designed to be out of the reach of Gippsland’s small businesses.

“Annually each ambulance station spends up to $10,000 with their dry cleaner – providing a stable income to keep locals in jobs.

“The Andrews Government decision on uniform cleaning is heartless and I am calling on the decision to be rescinded.

“Small business in Victoria has been disproportionally impacted by restrictions during the pandemic – why Labor ploughed ahead with its shameful state-wide contract knowing the further stress it places on small business defies belief.”