Friday 23 February 2024

Contact 1800 772 679

Contact 1800 772 679

The magazine of the Public Service Association of NSW and the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW Branch)

Privatisation: Your Part In Its Downfall

Privatisation: Your Part In Its Downfall

When you enter the polling booth, think about what the parties have planned for NSW.

In March 2023, voters in NSW will elect the state’s 58th parliament.

There is plenty at stake here. Premier Dominic Perrottet wants to extend the Liberal-National Coalition’s reign over NSW to 16 years. Trying to stop him are Labor leader Chris Minns and an assortment of independent MPs and minor parties.

We are fortunate to live under a democratic system and every vote you cast is important. However, the 2023 election is particularly vital. What is at stake is the question of who owns our public services: the people of NSW or the private sector.

Privatisation has stained NSW politics in the past few decades.

Both Labor and the Coalition have been guilty of selling off our state’s assets: electricity providers, prisons, roads, TAFE campuses and services such as cleaning in our schools. Even income-generating government functions, such as the Land Titles Office and state lotteries, no longer contribute to public coffers and are instead in private hands.

The result: a system where every time you use what were once state functions, you are charged a fee that goes to a private corporation, often one based in another country, so we never see the money again.

Privatisation hurts everyone.

From ever-increasing road tolls and stratospheric power prices to higher charges on property title searches, the people of NSW are paying more for the services once seen as part of the public domain. In a time of high inflation, these extra charges take a big bite into our household budgets. The profits made by companies such as big offshore toll providers is not being spent in local businesses, hurting our economy.

Selling off assets such as public housing and disability services has left some of our most vulnerable people worse off, at the mercy of private providers. Looking after the disadvantaged should be a function in a fair society, not a potential income stream, particularly as these people are already hit hard by rising living costs.

Both sides of the political divide have been guilty of sell-offs. However, only one side has conceded that this was a mistake.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns has ruled out more sell-offs. As with recent previous Labor leaders, he has told the PSA that the party’s decision in 2008 to privatise Parklea Correctional Centre was a mistake.

Crossbench parties such as the Greens and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have made similar statements opposing privatisation.

Sadly, there has been no such contrition from the ruling Liberal-National Coalition. Mr Perrottet remains committed to privatisation, using the cute term “asset recycling” to mask a political tactic that has never been popular with the voters of NSW.

From the perspective of the PSA/CPSU NSW, the re-election of Mr Perrottet would put at risk more services that employ our members. Service NSW, TAFE, Forestry Corporation and roles such as General Assistants in schools would be prime candidates. More sell-offs will mean higher prices for everyone in the state.

Make no mistake, though, should Labor take power the PSA/CPSU NSW will hold them and any crossbench supporters they have to the same level of scrutiny we have used on the Coalition.

This month, pencil in hand, you have a decision about the future of NSW. We urge you to think about what type of state you wish to live and work in.

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