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The true cost of privatising public services


For decades, advocates of the privatisation of public services have boasted of the cost savings of doing so. Today, we are counting the cost


Roadside Covid-19 testing “200314-Z-XK819-0026” by New York National Guard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

A recent article by Richard Denniss [1] in The Guardian has drawn attention to the role of the ideology of neoliberalism for the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Australia, rather than its spread being due to the fault of individuals. No doubt this observation can be generalised in regard to the spread of the virus within other parts of the world. The following extract is from the article:

“ Neoliberalism is spreading the Covid- 19 virus faster than any “reckless teenager” ever could. Privatised guards at quarantine hotels, private aged care centres that put profits ahead of staffing levels, and the fact that those who have been in charge neglected to have their health professionals appropriately evaluate the risk of the Ruby Princess, are the major causes of transmissions and deaths from Covid-19 in Australia.

“ Put simply, if Australia relied on a well- paid, well-trained and well-resourced public sector to protect us then there might have been no shutdown within Victoria, no restrictions on interstate travel and no forecast of double-digit unemployment.

“ For decades, many advocates of the outsourcing and privatisation of public services have boasted of the cost savings of doing so. And today, we are counting that cost. We will be counting it for years to come.

“ When you don’t care about the future, cost-cutting is easy. If you stop getting your car serviced, insuring your house and going to the dentist you can save thousands of dollars a year.

“ But, contrary to what decades of neo- liberal rhetoric has informed us, there is a very big difference between saving money and increasing efficiency. Some short-term savings can cost a fortune in the long run. “

1. Source: The Guardian, 20 August 2020

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