Working Australians and local industries stand to gain from important new guidelines covering the spending of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds each year, say unions.

The guidelines will help ensure the Government’s economic stimulus projects maximise the creation of jobs, improve skills and productivity, and strengthen local industries, said the ACTU.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the new Australian Government Procurement Statement would give local companies a fair go at securing Federal Government tenders.

Ms Burrow said unions have strongly pushed for taxpayer funded projects to maximise Australian jobs and strengthen local industry.

“We welcome these guidelines, which will provide an important boost to job security for Australian workers,” she said.

The guidelines will provide opportunities for apprentices and disadvantaged job seekers, and ongoing skills development for employees.

They will also encourage employers to make adequate provision for workers’ entitlements.

“This shows the way for Australian companies in the public and private sectors to behave ethically towards their employees and to engage in more sustainable business practices,” Ms Burrow said.

“It is a positive example of how the Government’s spending power can be used to deliver benefits to working Australians and strengthen our economy.”

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence welcomed the recognition in the statement that value for money was not just about the cheapest price available, but should take into account quality and social or environmental effects.

He said it was pleasing to see the Government acknowledge that it could be a model of fairness in the workplace, and that it would not support contracting arrangements that undermined entitlements or did not comply with the Fair Work Act.

It is particularly good to see specific support for low-paid cleaners and home-based outworkers in these guidelines, Mr Lawrence said.

“With unemployment rising, this is the right time for government purchasing to maximise the creation of Australian jobs by supporting local industry in this way,” Mr Lawrence said.

“Price should not be the only determinant of who is a successful bidder for a Government tender.

“It would be absurd to see taxpayers’ money being spent overseas when there are world-class suppliers of goods and services here in Australia who are suffering from the economic downturn.

“These guidelines will ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and in a way which maximises good jobs for working Australians, and also promotes skills development and higher productivity so that we can successfully position our economy for the global recovery.”