7 January 2021

David Hayward on the fruits of neoliberal privatisation: “What might once have been delivered by public servants paid and educated rather well has been replaced by a privatised system using a largely casualised workforce that is undoubtedly underpaid. Aged care and child care are other examples, where governments provide most of the cash used by privates and not-for-profits to pay workers, cover costs, pay management and in some cases deliver to shareholders a nice return. They might be government funded, but they get classified as private firms. They often use silly names that hide the identity of the actual owner and are often as interested in making a buck from property development as much as they are from the services that are meant to be their main concern. Their often male owners and managers get paid handsomely, while their typically female workforce stays underpaid. … The idea was to use private sector efficiency to deliver government services better than before. It never occurred to advocates that wage cuts are not an efficiency gain at all. It never occurred to reformers that markets bring with them marketing departments whose purpose is to sell, and that it is in the sales effort, not service delivery, that private sector providers often excel. We now spend far more on rent assistance, negative gearing and other tax breaks for private landlords than we ever did on public housing. But we have no public assets to show for it, most tenants endure unaffordable and insecure housing, and homelessness is still rife. Private balance sheets have been beefed up at the expense of the public purse.”