NSW Public Works has a long and impressive history of making a significant contribution to the built environment in NSW. It conserves the state’s historic buildings and maintains and upgrades important community infrastructure. Its architects, landscape architects, urban designers and heritage specialists design public buildings and spaces, and in the past has played a major role in constructing these – most notably the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This year, as part of a ‘repositioning’ of Public Works, the government sold off the last of its construction groups to a private company. Some long-standing employees were offered a job with the buyer, but many were made redundant.
The Government has lost its construction expertise at a time when it is embarking on a major program of building infrastructure. This makes it vulnerable to large construction corporations who can exploit that lack of knowledge when taking on government contracts. This increases costs and value for money.
The Government will also lose the capacity to get back into construction if there is a breakdown or failure with the private provision of services, placing the people of NSW totally at the mercy of the workings of the private market.