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Home Features Can asset recycling end privatisation premier-slaying?
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TAGS asset recycling, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australian Tax Office, Department of Finance, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, infrastructure, privatisation
Privatisation has the reputation of being a premier-slayer, but public servants can now feel safe to put forward asset recycling project ideas to governments. The Mandarin examines the new playing field.
Privatisation is not always great for political careers, claiming scalps like Morris Iemma and now Campbell Newman, but former departmental chiefs say there’s no reason for public servants to hesitate putting forward asset recycling ideas.
Competition — not ownership — is how the public interest is protected, a parliamentary inquiry heard this week, just days before the ACT government signed an asset recycling deal with the Commonwealth, and the New South Wales election campaign began with a pitch to privatise electricity.
Asset recycling makes good economic sense, says one former head of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Department of Finance who oversaw the major asset sale program of the Hawke-Keating years.
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Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and reported for titles including Crikey and the Star Observer.
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Frustrating to see the same old ideas trotted out by the same old people. The public have made it pretty clear in several elections that they don’t want more privatisation. For the most part it had not led to better or cheaper services, rather a bonanza for the financiers and lawyers.
Perhaps it is time governments and many senior bureaucrats admitted the many failures of privatisation, accepted the public’s wishes and came up with some new ideas for public ownership and management of assets. For asset recycling is a PR term, not a new approach. And bribing the states tells us right away that something is not right.