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A tale of two inquiries

The Turnbull government has directed the Productivity Commission to undertake an inquiry into increasing ‘competition’ and ‘contestability’ in human services – both code-words for increasing privatisation and for-profit provision of services.

The first stage of the inquiry concluded in December, with a report that identifies six areas that they have identified from increased competition and contestability ‘reform’:
•    Social housing
•    Public hospital services
•    End-of-life care
•    Public dental services
•    Human Services in remote indigenous communities
•    Commissioning arrangements for family and community services

The second stage of the inquiry has commenced, which will explore options for how further competition and contestability could be implemented in these areas.
We already know the answer, though: privatisation.

Many submissions to the inquiry (including the CPSU) have detailed the problems with privatisation and running public services for a profit, including pointing to failures in the vocational education, job services, and prison sector.

It appears as though the Commission dismissed all of this evidence against privatisation, however, by stating: “maximising community welfare from the provision of human services does not depend on adopting one type of model or favouring one type of service provider over others.”

But is handing over control of our public services to private profiteers in the best interests of our community? The CPSU believes our community should have a say over how our services are run – and for whose benefit.
That’s why our union, along with other public sector unions, has initiated the national People’s Inquiry into Privatisation.
The independent inquiry, chaired by David Hetherington, of think tank, Per Capita, has collected hundreds of written submissions and travelled to capital cities and regional centres around Australia over September and October to speak directly with people about the impact of privatisation in their lives.
The stories heard by the inquiry panel were powerful, and highlighted the detrimental impact of privatisation on service quality, cost, accountability, and accessibility.

To date, the Productivity Commission’s inquiry seems to only be interested in exploring options that will take control of public services away from our community. But the People’s Inquiry is showing that communities are fed up with privatisation, and want services that are run to benefit them – not the privateers. It’s time the elected government listened to the people and stopped privatisation of our assets and services.

The People’s Inquiry report and recommendations will be launched late February.
The Commission is due to release the final report of the inquiry in October.

If you work in one of the areas identified above and would like to confidentially assist with information for future CPSU submissions, please contact National Campaigns Officer Clare Middlemas: cmiddlemas@spsf.asn.au

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