Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

The Liberal’s compulsion to turn public assets into private wealth – and get the public to help fund the process

The LNP in Queensland have been softening up the public for a privatisation binge pretty much from the day they got elected in 2012. In recent times, they’ve kindly made the public pay millions for a prolonged wide-ranging advertising campaign – badly disguised as a pretend consultation process called Strong Choices. Naturally, any input from the public that didn’t back privatisation was ignored and the recent Budget duly contained a range of privatisation measures. And to rub in just how shameless governments with big majorities can be, having ignored the majority view of the public, the LNP is now embarking on another advertising campaign – also paid for by the public – to sell the Budget’s privatisation measures.

All of this shows just how deeply embedded in the LNP’s DNA is the compulsion to privatise, even though it clearly does nothing to address any structural deficit there might be in the state’s finances and even though it is undeniably unpopular with the public. I suppose one could therefore give some credit to the conservatives for pushing ahead with something they know is electorally unpopular, but personally I don’t think they deserve even that – firstly because no government should get credit for an unpopular policy measure if they’re going to use public funds trying to promote it, and secondly because the conservatives compulsion to privatise has nothing to do with balancing the budget and everything to do with a mindset of enriching their corporate mates who inevitably make a financial killing transferring the proceeds of decades of investment by society as a whole into the bulging coffers of a wealthy few.

For a clear and simple outline of why the Queensland government’s privatisation plans are a crock, read this piece by University of Queensland Economics Professor, John Quiggin – http://www.crikey.com.au/?p=441375

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5 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Lorikeet

    Hi Andrew, do you think the government wants to privatise the people’s assets so superannuation funds can have further areas in which to invest?

    I remember hearing Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey saying he wanted to invest superannuation money into our Health system. If he did that, it would require everyone to pay for their health care, maybe put a reverse mortgage on their home, or die in the streets without treatment.

    I recently attended the Medicare Local Forum here in Brisbane. It seemed to me that the Royal Women’s Hospital was about to be converted into beautiful (space consuming) birthing suites for the well heeled, with the poor and the average being forced to give birth at home with only a midwife in attendance. This was being passed off as a “choice”. Unfortunately these ideas came into being under a Labor government, despite the fact we don’t have an ambulance system in place to support it. I don’t support home births because we can never absolutely know who is likely to get into difficulty at the last moment.

    A university academic from the Royal Children’s Hospital told me it was going to be sold and a private hospital built on the same premises. This might be in keeping with an executive from Suncorp stating on the ABC that his company would be building hospitals in all of the major cities in Australia to cater for the needs of the elderly, e.g. hip and knee surgeries, cancer treatment. I heard this about 3 years ago.

    However the university academic said the primary contributor of donations to the RCH is Woolworths, who have also recently gone into banking, along with their “rival” Coles.

    From my experience of the aged care system, where the Macquarie Investment Bank is gradually increasing its holdings, all we have to do is look at where the big donations are coming from to understand who plans to take over. For example, research told me that the Macquarie Bank was a major contributor in the areas of Education, Health and The Arts. A lot of this money is considered by some to be “voluntary” donations being extracted from their own employees.

    Now in various states (not just Queensland) governments have “cherry picked” independent public schools and I believe these have been earmarked to charge fees.

    Now some changes to Medicare Locals are being proposed by the Coalition…not currently aware of the full details.

    I would support a steady u-turn and windback to a fully government run pension, as I think the superannuation system discriminates in favour of the rich and deprives the government of collecting taxes needed to fund the very institutions money hungry bankers wish to take over.

    With bankers in charge, we can expect even further Australian funds to be redistributed offshore, workers to be underpaid and abused, and service recipients to be ripped off.

    Since our water resources utilities have been corporatised, possibly soon to be privatised, there has been very little maintenance carried out, resulting in more breakdowns. Older workers earning more money are being fired and replaced with younger people on low wages and short insecure contracts.

    I have also heard that in some other countries where privatisation has occurred, the government has eventually had to buy back the people’s assets, at enormous cost.

  2. Lorikeet

    I haven’t been able to read the article by John Quiggin as yet, because the password they gave me is being rejected by the site.

  3. ALEX GARTLAN

    Hi Andrew, it’s nice to see you back and in operation again. I admire the lucidity of your arguments and your ability to cut to the kernal of things. I have much to learn from your blog site. Thanks, Alex Gartlan.

  4. Ghost Branch

    The premier has publicly stated any privatisation would only take place after an election. This will give voters the chance to express their opinions about privatisation at the ballot box.

  5. Lorikeet

    My fear is that people reliant on superannuation will support the privatisation of assets, the ripping off of their fellow Australians, and the importation of even more underpaid foreign workers, especially if returns on their investments become too low and they are denied a part-payment of Age Pension.

    We could also factor in recent federal government suggestions that the minimum wage needs to be reduced, along with the Coalition’s plan to make the unemployed work for up to 15 hours to receive Newstart, which would certainly deliver less than the minimum wage.

    On the whole, I am fairly disgusted with the Coalition’s backsliding agenda where all Centrelink payments are concerned, especially when they also want to give a windfall of up to $50,000 to women having babies, but only if they return to work.

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