Pillar sell-off a good thing, Murphy says

Illawarra Business Chamber chief executive, Debra Murphy. Picture: Adam McLean.

Illawarra Business Chamber chief executive, Debra Murphy. Picture: Adam McLean.

The head of the region’s business organisation has backed the state government’s sell-off of Illawarra-based Pillar Administration.

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian announced the sale of the superannuation administrator, which employs more than 700 people at its Coniston headquarters, on Wednesday. 

I think the private sector is best-positioned to be able to deliver an efficient service along the lines of what Pillar currently do - Debra Murphy, Illawarra Business Chamber chief.

The government is expected to call for expressions of interest next year and will invest the proceeds of the sale into vital services and infrastructure.

Illawarra Business Chamber chief executive Debra Murphy told the Mercury the sale was “a good thing”.

“From the point of view that I think the private sector is best-positioned to be able to deliver an efficient service along the lines of what Pillar currently do,” Ms Murphy said. “We’d like to urge the government to try and retain the business location in Wollongong, just given our current economic downsizing that’s been happening in manufacturing and mining.”

Ms Murphy said knowledge service-related jobs in the financial sector needed to be preserved, suggesting the business remain in the Illawarra for about five years “so it gives some surety to the community that we’re not going to be stripped of 700 jobs”.

Earlier this month, the Mercury revealed voluntary redundancies were being offered to Pillar employees as part of a “comprehensive business transformation process” that involves a major IT upgrade.

It is unclear how many jobs would go, however the government says the transformation is separate to the upcoming sale. 

Asked if she was concerned about the potential job losses resulting from the sale, Ms Murphy said the process was about running an efficient business.

“If that means you have to ramp up and then ramp down, like what they’ve done with their IT project, that’s a normal course of a business,” she said.

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