Government agencies around Australia are standing up to support the campaign to end violence against women today for White Ribbon Day.
ALL THINGS P: The federal government wants to know which open data would be most useful to business, researc
We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features Pitfalls of privatisation: ideologues will repeat mistakes
Text size :
PEOPLEJanine O'Flynn, Paul Barratt
TAGS Janine O'Flynn, outsourcing, Paul Barratt, privatisation
Past lessons demand a pragmatic approach to privatisation, weighing up costs and benefits and considering each case on its merits. Blind faith in ideology leads to costly mistakes.
Government services are on the auction block, and a contestability mantra is ringing out in Canberra. They’re decisions steeped in political ideology, but with management outcomes the bureaucracy must get its head around.
With the assistance of private sector legal and business advisors, two taskforces within the Department of Finance are currently working on $11.7 million worth of scoping studies to assess four candidates for outright sale: the Australian Mint, Defence Housing Australia, Australian Hearing Services and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission registry. The recent Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook also confirmed Finance would look at privatisation options for the sensitive Intra-Government Communications Network, a web of fibre optic cables between hundreds of government sites in Canberra.
The ICON study will be paid for out of the department’s normal budget and, according to a spokesperson, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is to make further announcements about it “in due course”. The government will consider the studies and make a decision on each as it crafts this year’s budget.
There’s calls for those studies to be conducted as impartially as possible, given the mixed report card on privatisation — in Australia and elsewhere — over many years. According to public management professor Janine O’Flynn, the research literature clearly shows decisions about whether to privatise or retain an area of business inside government must be made on a case-by-base basis. Nevertheless, it has become a political battleground, with “two very distinct camps”.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
Read Related Content
Contestability in the public sector requires there be viable alternatives for genuine competition. That means encouraging alternate providers, or having an alternate management team. ANZSOG’s Professor Gary Sturgess explains the options.
There are clear lessons here for the current Queensland election campaign, where the electorate is expected to decide between the devil they know – state-owned enterprises – and the devil which might be in the detail of privatisation. Yet the government still seeks to bribe the taxpayers with their own money to pay for the electoral sweeteners called targeted infra-structure projects.