Why an inquiry?

Politicians at all levels of government in Australia are privatising our public services. In recent years, the Global Financial Crisis has created the opportunity for politicians to implement austerity policies, which have only served to deepen economic inequality in our community. Financiers, consultants, and privatisation advocates have seized the GFC as an opportunity to persuade politicians to accelerate privatisation. In all jurisdictions we have seen politicians running down our public services through chronic underfunding and budget cuts, which serve as a further incentive for privatisation.

The aim of the inquiry, chaired by David Hetherington, is to begin a conversation about the issue of privatisation in all its forms – including outsourcing, social impact bonds, user-pays, vouchers, commissioning, etc. - and build consensus around an alternative vision for our public services. We need to put forward our vision for the role of government in service delivery, what kind of public services our community needs, and ultimately, what kind of society we want to live in.

Treasurer Morrison has recently instructed the Productivity Commission to begin an inquiry into extending ‘competition and choice’ in the human services sector – which we know is just code for privatisation. Our inquiry will run parallel to the Productivity Commission inquiry, but instead of looking into ways to further marketise and privatise public services for the benefit of business, our inquiry will be the ‘people’s inquiry’. Our inquiry will start from the premise that public services are here to serve people and their communities, and will present the views of what communities require from their services, and the role of government in providing these services.

The inquiry will begin by accepting written submissions from organisations and individuals responding to the terms of reference. The inquiry will then travel to capital cities and regional centres around the country to talk directly with communities about the impacts of privatisation and what they want from their public services (click here for the hearings schedule and information).

We want to hear from you about the impact of privatisation on services in your community, and we want to hear your ideas for how we could change our public services for the better. Click here to make a written submission, and click here to express interest in attending a public hearing in your town.

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