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Offshoring Our Future: Sinking Australian Jobs and the Great Barrier Reef

In spite of government lamentations about rising rates of unemployment, the NSW government is considering a plan to outsource around 240 human resources, IT, finances and payroll jobs to India.

A typical Indian call centre.

A typical Indian call centre.

The positions likely to be sent offshore belong to ServiceFirst, a company providing the above services to several government departments including the Office of Finance and the Treasury.

The irony of the situation is palpable. To the public, the government is styling itself as a stalwart defender of the livelihoods of its people, fighting to keep jobs in the hands of needy Australians, and curbing immigration because, as South Park so succinctly put it, “they took er jerbs!!!”

In reality, the government is seeking to cheapen its expenditure by moving those jobs to poor second and third world economies. This is not only reprehensible in a patriotic sense, leaving hardworking Australians to fend for themselves, but also in an ethical sense. The pay rates and working conditions of workers in India are some of the worst in the world, with nationals in the country working on average 8.1 hours a day as of 2011, with 191 minutes of that spent on unpaid work.

Call centre workers make on average 15,000 rupees, or 300 USD per month, which is about thrice that of employees in other sectors.

Over 94% of India’s workforce in considered unorganised, meaning unlicensed, self-employed, or unregistered economic activity such as rural traders and hand loom workers. This sector offers low productivity and lower wages. Even though it accounted for ninety four percent of workers, the unorganised sector created only 57% of India’s national domestic product in 2006, or around nine times less per worker than the organised sector.

There are reprehensible ethical issues in this sector, including debt bondage, where labour is forced from outstanding debt (otherwise known as slavery), and child labour to the tune of nearly five million children according to a 2009-10 nationwide survey.

For a government that counts human rights among it’s strongest priorities, this behaviour is woefully hypocritical.

The Public Service Association of NSW general secretary Anne Gardiner, in statements published in the Sydney Morning Herald, said that up to 30,000 of the state’s 400,000 public servants perform similar corporate service work to that targeted for outsourcing, leaving the future employment of many Australians hanging precariously in the balance.

Unemployment in the region is at a six year high, and this proposal seems to show that the government has no solid plans to turn those figures around, despite their blustering to the contrary.

Gladstone Harbour

Gladstone Harbour

In a continuance of this fine form, the Australian government has invited journalists worldwide to participate in an all expenses paid trip to the Great Barrier Reef (or should we say, areas of it that haven’t been utterly destroyed by corporate greed) in an obvious attempt to bribe the media to keep the Reef off the Unesco world heritage committee’s “in-danger” list.


It seems our government is prepared to sit on its laurels with regard to doing anything about the Great Barrier Reef other than allowing it to earn the coveted title of “understated problem of the century”, for which literally no expense is being spared.

An article by Guardian Australia reports that journalists from Germany, France, the Phillipines, Japan, India and Portugal are being flown in for a week long stay, where they’ll get to see the reef and meet “officials” who will “explain” Australia’s conservation efforts. How it’ll take a week to explain a literal absence of those efforts is beyond me.

The trip is being organised by the “Great Barrier Reef Task Force”, an organisation established not to actually prevent damage to the reef, but to prevent damage to those damaging the reef by keeping it off the Unesco “in danger” list. The government argues that it’s efforts on this front are necessary to counter “misinformation” about the state of the reef, a phrase which seems to mean any actual video footage, photography and scientific data that might jeopardise the business partnerships of government officials.

Let’s put this into perspective. One of the world’s most lucrative sources of tourism based income, a natural phenomenon that can be seen from space and that has taken at the least 10,000 years to form, is being reduced to a cloud of silt to line the pockets of men who will probably die of their cholesterol before 2030.

This article was originally posted on the author’s blog, which you can find here.


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  1. Kaye Lee

    Instead of protecting the reef and our jobs they are spending millions travelling around “selling the message”, or on market research to see if we love them, or on advertising to make us embrace them.

    “A total of 21 countries provide representatives to Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, and the group is set to gather in the German city of Bonn in June to decide, among other things, whether the reef should be put on the endangered list.

    Guardian Australia understands that Dfat officials will be travelling to as many of these countries as possible, with foreign minister Julie Bishop and environment minister Greg Hunt raising it with WHC delegates on an “opportunistic basis”.

    The government has been ratcheting up its diplomatic efforts over recent months to avoid the in danger listing. In September it emerged that Hunt and Andrew Powell, Queensland environment minister, travelled to Europe to lobby delegates.”

    Which fits in with this government’s approach to everything….endless resources when it comes to “selling the message”.

    “The Abbott government has splashed more than $8 million of taxpayer money on a media blitz promoting its stalled higher education reforms.”

    “Elsewhere, the health, industry, education, employment, defence and foreign affairs departments shelled out more than $1.43 million on media monitoring between July and October. ”

    “Defence recently signed a $825,000 contract for media monitoring between November 2014 and August 2015. The Department of Environment plans to spend $400,000 on monitoring between September 2014 and June 2015. The Department of Employment will also spend $315,000 on market research early this year to evaluate Work for the Dole.”

    “The health, human services, industry, education, employment, veterans affairs and foreign affairs and trade departments employ a total 217 spin doctors, event organisers, graphic designers and public relations experts.
    The total of those seven major departments only just exceeds the mini-army of 197 permanent, part-time or “ongoing” PR staff employed by Defence.”

    “The scrutiny of Twitter, Facebook and blogs is part of $4.3 million worth of research contracts commissioned by the federal government in its first five months of office.

    Among contracts the government has commissioned from dozens of market research agencies are $38,500 to research a possible West Australian Senate election, $20,400 to monitor social media for the Department of Communications and $67,300 to track and monitor the government’s ”no boat no visa” campaign.”

    This is a small sample. I could go on…..

  2. jimhaz

    Though I am in 100% agreement with hypocrisy of the LNP in relation to outsourcing jobs to India, to me it is traitorous, I’d don’t personally like the adding of the ethical issue of working conditions in India to the argument.

    My view is that the more money overseas countries spend in India on an overall basis the less poverty stricken most Indians will eventually become. When overseas companies or governments send jobs to India this adds wealth into the society, and from this wealth worker expectations, organisation and power can grow and societal change can more easily occur. Without the investment nothing will change or things will change more slowly.

    Therefore it is actually more ethical to send jobs overseas.

    Still to me that ethical wrong does not override the practical wrong in outsourcing government jobs. My view is that if you do not look after your own first as best you can then you will be less able to look after others. I also do not hold the humanist view that the economic growth of other countries is our responsibility, however I would soften were we not in debt, both public and private, and anyone who wanted a job could get one.

    Although as one must question how much is presently being siphoned off by multinationals or Indian billionaires, that could be handled by public appeals to ethical distribution when the contracts are drawn up. i just don’t think governments spending taxpayer money should be allowed to outsource internationally where large numbers of jobs are involved.

  3. Rob Marsh

    Jimhaz, in theory you’re right, but corporations don’t act to improve working conditions where they can get away with it, see the suicide nets at Apple’s factories.

  4. Terry2

    “The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February, as the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.”

    As Australia tops 6% unemployed and rising, why are the Abbott government so pleased with their economic performance or is it just more smoke and mirrors ?

  5. Pingback: Offshoring Our Future: Sinking Australian Jobs and the Great Barrier Reef – » The Australian Independent Media Network | winstonclose

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I agree that outsourcing our jobs o/s is reprehensible. I also value the rights of Third World citizens to decent livings. But not at the expense of my peer Australian citizens.

    I want to see a rising from the grassroots of industries and endeavours that produce opportunities for Australians and that are out of the clutch of this incompetent government that would sell its arse to the best bidder.

    The LNP Degenerates are prostitutes and so are their lackeys and backers.

  7. LOVO

    As I see it 😕 ….. Australians are under attack from the 1% and associated ‘buttlickers4abuck’ because our wagers and conditions are “said” to be holding us back, 😕 economically/ competitively- etc, (social capital be damned 😯 ) – and that’s in relation to other lessor paid countries- ….. I say 😛 … “As usual- Aussies are leading the way in an fair days pay-etc ….but for how much longer??”
    WE don’t need to go backwards on wagers and conditions…. other countries workers should be encouraged to move ‘forward’ towards Australia’s wagers and conditions system…… and yes, that would include double-time on Shiva’s birthday 😉 ….
    One wonders why people from ‘certain’ countries risk their lives travelling to this country under the most horrendous circumstances 🙁 … only to find that their dream of a ‘fair go’ and an good life in OZ, has been ‘out-sourced’ too..- ‘from whence they have come’-…( from 😳 )
    The more jobs we send O/S the less money Aussies have to buy stuff…….. now can anybody see ‘the dead-end Street’ scenario in relation to ‘OFF-SHORING’ ??? ….. it would seem that ‘some’ have only an ‘Next Quarter’ view of their ‘one time around’……. sad really 😛 😛 ( such idiots)….. no really….. just, you k-know, … sayin’ 🙂
    Ahhh… Only the LNP “would” think that getting rid of peoples jobs would be ‘creating employment opportunities’.
    ….. and just as an aside ” The pork-barrelling by Hollywood H. in my electorate of NSW is pretty much unprecedented out this way.. and more than a tad sickening … “THEY” must k-know that “they” are on the nose out here in the wild-wild west, especially over water inequality.
    ……..My hope is that we become an ” Marginal ” , then the pork-barrelling bastards of all persuasions will look beyond the ‘Great Dividing Range’ and see an whole new side to NSW… the side that’s on the other side, if you k-know what I mean, ( thats the bits that’s ain’ts gots no coast line) ……………. and yet !!!!!!

  8. Harquebus

    Economic integration with China was supposed to improve human rights in that country. Instead, our own have been steadily eroded.
    Likewise, outsourcing to India will not improve wages and working conditions in that country. Instead we will have lower wages and working conditions.

    Free trade is not free. They only call it that because it sounds nice.

    “Free trade! oooooh. That sounds nice. I think I like that.”
    Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions
    (Repair URL to view.)

  9. Terry2

    A couple of years ago a business efficiency survey looked at the benefits for companies in offshoring customer support services and found that customer satisfaction was minimal and customer frustration with these services was the norm. In fact, the use of overseas call centres was seen as a business negative particularly impacting adversely on sales : not unsurprisingly, it found that Australians would respond more favourably to being assisted by another Australian.It was also recognised that telephone contact between customers and service providers was a critical interaction and needed to be carefully managed to ensure that the experience was ‘rewarding’.

    One of the findings and suggested solutions to what was clearly a failing strategy was to bring back customer support services onshore and employ Australians and in particular those who were able to work from home and who were trained – to the same level as those in the Philippines and India – to efficiently manage these interactions. The suggested target employment market it said should be the retired, disabled and parents who chose to stay at home with their babies.

    Offshoring jobs to save money by paying lower wages in a foreign country is a fad that has seen its day and should be shown up for what it is : exploitation. We should be naming and shaming companies that continue to offshore Australian jobs – looking at you Telstra.

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    it beggars belief. I’m looking at Telstra too. Naming and shaming the culprits is a good start to turn back the tide.

  11. Anthony Shorter

    We just had experience in this regard.
    My wife called ANZ over a minor matter last week and the operator was an Australian girl, very bright and very helpful. At the end of the call she was shifted off to another department in India and the contrast could not have been starker.
    I don’t blame the kids in Bangladore or wherever, every body has to eat, but the calls are so frustrating as the accent I’d so difficult to understand and one has to constantly ask for things to be repeated.
    I once had a problem amounting to over $500 on a mobile bill and the Indian operator made no attempt to assist in any way. It was only after I contacted the ombudsman that the matter was resolved in my favour.
    I cancelled my service with 3 ( now vodaphone) soon after.
    And don’t get me started on” May I call you Anthony”. Customers should be referred to as Mrs, Mr, Dr. Etc.
    I am over 70 and I do not want to be on fist name basis with anyone on the end of a telephone line.

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