Privatisation spectre looms again

Will they ever learn? Will the Productivity Commission ever admit that privatisation cannot cure all ills? And why has the Australian Government put them up to writing another pro-privatisation report when the failure of privatisation in so many cases is something everyone can see.

Despite providing very little evidence, the inquiry has identified six areas which it believes are ripe for privatisation. Wait for it:

  • Social housing
  • Public hospital services
  • Specialist palliative care
  • Public dental services
  • Human services in remote Indigenous communities
  • Grant based family and community services.

The Productivity Commission says that “competition between multiple service providers for the custom of users can drive innovation and efficiencies”.

You might be surprised. Many have reported poor and declining standards of care in many for-profit nursing homes.

CPSA has previously reported on how the reforms to aged care have led to increasing profits for commercial companies, such as Estia. This is done by cutting skilled staff and compromising the quality of care.

This is just one of many examples where privatisation and increasing competition has delivered money into the hands of private companies at the expense of quality human services.

If the government was serious about improving human services it would look beyond the failed policies of competition and privatisation.

For example, there are currently almost 200,000 households on social housing waiting lists with clearly not enough housing stock supply to even remotely fill demand. So, although greater ‘user choice’ would be desirable for people needing social housing, the principal problem is the lack of supply and continued underinvestment by all levels of government in social and affordable housing.

CPSA believes in accessible, affordable, equitable and effective human services.

It has been shown time and time again that greater competition, privatisation and marketisation is aimed at reducing public expenditure, not at improving services.

This is why CPSA’s submission will be calling on the Australian Government to explore a wider range of policy and funding options to improve the effectiveness of human services, not just ‘greater competition, contestability and user choice’.