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Govt "doesn't know" Lands Titles Office sale jobs impact

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Acting Premier John Rau says the State Government does not yet know how many Lands Titles Office employees would be displaced by its impending privatisation after the Public Service Association claimed 200 jobs were at risk.

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PSA General Secretary Nev Kitchin told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that the union had seen a draft future organisational chart for the agency that suggested 200 public servants would no longer have a position there.

He warned that public servants re-employed by any private corporation could face poorer conditions of employment.

Rau told reporters at a press conference this morning that the Government was waiting on the outcome of a tender to privatise the “front-of-house” functions of the Lands Titles Office, and was yet to know the jobs impact of the sale.

“We can’t say specifically – because the tender hasn’t yet been resolved – whether any or all of the people who may be doing exclusively front-of-house activity will be no-longer required, and if they are no longer required by the Government, whether they will be offered an alternative opportunity elsewhere,” he said.

“If they are not required by the Government in that function, and are not offered an opportunity elsewhere, then those people remain employees of the state, and the state has obligations to those people, which the state would fulfil.

“They continue to be whatever they are – if they’re a permanent public servant, presently, they would continue to be [that].”

He added: “We need to calm ourselves a little” and wait for the outcome of the tender.

“Whether or not that tender involves picking up or making offers to people who are currently engaged in front-of-house activities within the existing structure is a matter which will be determined in the course of the tender,” he said.

“If somebody offered an enormous value proposition to government and didn’t offer employment for people, that’s one proposition.

“Somebody might offer a terrible proposition in terms of value for the Government but agree to take everybody over – let’s wait and see.”

Asked whether the job-displacement claim from the PSA was accurate, he said: “We don’t know any concrete numbers as yet.”

“It depends what the PSA is identifying by way of numbers, whether they’re including front-of-house, back-of-house – I don’t know.”

Rau said the Lands Titles Office had two distinct sections, front-of-house and back-of-house. He said the former was the subject of the tender and latter would remain entirely under Government control.

But he offered was unable to say how many employees were in “front-of-house” functions and gave no guarantee that the “back-of-house” employees would retain their current jobs either.

“No, I’m saying: my definition of the back-of-house function continues to be a government function, controlled by the Registrar,” he said.

“Exactly how many people the Registrar requires to do that is – I don’t know [… and] if you take those people out, the total number that leaves, I’m not sure.”

Asked how many staff members are in “front-of-house” at the Lands Titles Office, Rau said: “it depends how you define front-of-house”.

Rau said the outcome of the tender would become clear within a month or two.

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