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Jun 7, 2017

Govt Dis-Connex – Budget must relieve disability care, child protection and prison crisis: PSA

PSA media release

The NSW Government must halt its socially destructive privatisation agenda and focus attention on such critical public services as disability care, child protection and prisons said the Public Service Association (PSA).

The PSA, the state’s largest public sector union, calls on the State Government to openly assess the socio-economic impact of any proposed privatisation as part of the budgetary process.

The union has a major stake in the budget with more than 36,000 members who provide vital public services to the 7.5 million people in NSW each day.

“The NSW Government talks about asset sale proceeds going towards more rail, roads, schools and hospitals,” said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

“What the Government doesn’t say is they will be toll roads and private hospitals.

“The Government that is only concerned with building infrastructure not communities or a society.

“This is a Government that is intent on washing its hands of all social responsibility for public services, the fallout from which will be disastrous for generations to come.

“It’s all about big business and big money. The lives of real people caught in the business transaction crossfire are just collateral damage as far as the Government is concerned.

“The Government loves to trumpet its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than potentially losing the security on their property with the sale of the Land Titles Registry?”

“What could be more life changing for tens of thousands of families than to have the care of loved ones with disability thrown into free fall after the Government completely steps away from the public disability space next year?”

“NSW will be the only state in Australia with no Government safety net for people with disability.”

The PSA believes the NSW Government should look critically at overseas privatisation experiences, particularly the horrors in the UK, and review and recalibrate its position in those terms.

“Reforms based purely on rigid political ideology cannot possibly be in the public interest,” said Stewart Little.

Glaring examples of this gaping policy shortcoming can be seen in TAFE – with the misleadingly titled Smart and Skilled reforms – and handing of countless millions in public funds to cheap private providers with little accountability – along with the outsourcing of public housing.

“Some services simply must remain statutory responsibilities of the crown. Passing off critical areas such as Out of Home Care for vulnerable children, disability services and prisons to the private and community sector is nothing short of a gross abdication of the Government’s duty of care,” said Stewart Little.

“The consulting and other firms who are paid millions to deliver these reforms are winners, as are the private organisations who win the right to operate public services. But what is the pay off for the people of NSW?”

The PSA calls for the introduction of the following as part of the ongoing budgetary process:

  • Social justice impact statements of potential implications of any proposed privatisation. Including comparative social and economic evidence of similar outsourcings elsewhere in the world
  • Public business cases to provide clear and open grounds for any proposed privatisation or outsourcing
  • A cost benefit analysis of any outsourced service to be made public every 12 months
  • Retaining a Government safety net for people with disability who have high end needs unable to be accommodated by the private sector
  • Properly reinstating TAFE as the state’s pre-eminent vocational trainer rather than outsourcing critical skills instruction to lowest common denominator private providers
  • An immediate moratorium on outsourcing of Out of Home Care of vulnerable children
  • Investment in public prisons rather than a “cell off” to the private sector
  • Retaining and growing NSW Housing’s public stock with no further transfers to the community sector.
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