People's Inquiry into Privatisation

The People’s Inquiry into Privatisation is an initiative of the Public Services’ International (PSI) affiliated unions in Australia which, in addition to the ASU, include the CPSU, NSWNMA and ETU. In 2016 the Inquiry travelled to all states and territories of Australia to gather community testimony about the impact of privatisation on real people. Along with written submissions and research, the result is a comprehensive report released in October 2017: “Taking Back Control: A Community Response to Privatisation”. As the title amply conveys, the Australian people have had enough of the privatisation experiment unleashed on them since the 1990s and there is a strong appetite to return services and assets to public hands.

One of the keenest frustrations expressed by people participating was the failure of the promises given to the community at the time, that jobs would be maintained, that services would improve and costs would go down.

Summary of some of the key reccomendations:

  1. A moratorium on privatisation until greater regulatory mechanisms are in place.
  2. Prior to any new privatisation, governments should provide a series of justifications on various specified grounds.
  3. Governments must take back regulation of privatised services.
  4. Governments must continuously evaluate privatised services to ensure they meet community needs.
  5. Comparison of services vying for contracts must not be based on different pay levels, OHS standards, codes of conduct, etc.
  6. Governments should take back control of failed privatisations.
  7. Privatised services report annually to ensure services and infrastructure that use public money are open, transparent and delivered to the highest quality.
  8. Australia should rebuild public assets and public sector capability in new areas.

The Quality Public Services campaign

In order to protect public services the ASU is involved in the global "Quality Public Services" campaign. Our involvement in the campaign seeks to get public services on the agenda of all governments in Australia, that those governments provide quality service to the community and not preside over a reduction of services through spending cuts and privatisation.

Governments should not see profit as the motive when making decisions about public services.

Quality Public Services campaign themes

Themes within the ASU Quality Public Services campaign include:

  1. Opposition to Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) where they are not in the public's best interest or are seen as a means of attacking ASU members and their families' standards of living.
  2. Argue against contracting out of services, particularly where the target is ASU members and their families' standards of living.
  3. Arguing against trade agreements where foreign companies will get an unfair advantage or be out of touch with the Australian community and/or seek to take the profits from the provision of public services in Australia to their shareholders in other communities and other societies throughout the world. Profits from Australian public services should stay in Australia for more public services to serve more Australians.
  4. The realisation by governments, in particular local government, that Australia has an ageing population, an increasing population and a population with an increased standard of living, that will require improved additional Quality Public Services.
  5. ASU campaigns on Quality Public Services link across a range of industries and regular news items reported in the ASU sectors and industries show that we are serious about campaigning for Quality Public Services.

On my own, I couldn't achieve much. But as a union member, we can create real change. 
Sam Parker, ASU member

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