Privatisation & Public Assets

Related policies

  • Anti-corruption & Governance
  • Economy
  • Foreign Investment
  • Trade

Background

It is a myth that the private sector always operates more efficiently.

"Those who think this way often forget is that private sector tenderers have to undercut the public service's price and make room for their profit, which they hope to make as big as possible." Sydney Morning Herald

Policy

Retain, and where appropriate regain, public ownership of Australia’s key public assets, particularly natural monopolies, in order to serve the broader public and national interests.(1)

Policy Methods (Federal & State)

To help achieve this Sustainable Australia Party will:

  • Protect important public assets from further privatisation
  • Re-nationalise on just terms and/or re-establish key public assets and essential services and utilities as soon as practicable, including but not limited to:
    • Commonwealth Employment Service
    • Airports
    • Ports
    • Water companies
    • Energy companies, including electricity and gas
    • State land titles offices
    • Transportation including major roads and public transport assets

“The CES was one place for job seeking, retraining, access and support with Vocational Training (VET), works testing of the unemployed, support for older unemployed, local economic development, entry level training, youth support, skilled migration, temporary work visas, a local response to labour shortages, assistance with moving skilled, or for that matter unskilled workers, to locations with jobs and skills needs, support for people with a disadvantage or disability, support for ex-offenders, industry restructuring assistance, and the list goes on. One place, a one stop shop. Not perfect but better than what we have now.” Council of Small Business Organisations Australia

"There’s little reason to believe we’ve seen much improvement in the efficiency with which government services have been delivered [following privatisation]. Rather, there are numerous examples of reductions in the quality of services and a decline in the policy capability of public service – evident in the need to bring in military generals and the small fortune being spent on management consultants from the big four accounting firms." Sydney Morning Herald

"The Australia Institute has released a new report entitled Electricity costs: Preliminary results showing how privatisation went seriously wrong, which finds that electricity prices have increased at three times the rate of CPI, primarily due to companies ‘gold-plating’ financial assets and passing those costs onto consumers." MacroBusiness

  • Investigate the viability of establishing a publicly owned commercial bank to provide a much-needed benchmark for the banking sector. Operation would include areas of low risk deposits and lending and possibly operate as part of the Reserve Bank of Australia (also see Economy policy)
  • Support a strong public service and public sector, and an end to ideologically-driven outsourcing (also see Anti-Corruption & Governance policy)
  • Set clear public asset, utilities and services ownership and operation criteria that enhances financial management efficiency, the ongoing quality of service delivery, environmental sustainability and the public good

Footnotes:

  1. Public ownership can often better provide for decisions to be taken in the broader public interest, including the prioritisation of environmental sustainability and the better directing of technological innovation. Examples would be transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy, road to rail freight, and slower depletion of non-renewable resources. Furthermore, public ownership can, where required, be equally or more efficient than private ownership if properly managed and resourced. Privatisations often increase the cost to citizens of accessing the services of essential utilities due to a greater push for profit. Generally only profitable entities are privatised, which means either that the loss of future revenue to government is greater than the sale price, or the future revenue must be escalated by putting up fees to customers. Public asset ownership does not necessarily need to build in profit margins for shareholders, and may therefore provide consumers with products at lower prices.

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