Marketisation of public services has failed Australia

Following the recent Australia Post scandal, economics professor John Quiggin has taken direct aim at the profound failure of privatisation and corporatisation to deliver improved services to Australians:

The statutory authority model, used at the state level for electricity, water, housing and a range of infrastructure services was highly successful for most of the 20th century. Statutory authorities operated with boards that were independent of direct political control and which were selected to represent a broad range of community interests, including employees and consumers. They were generally expected to cover their own operating costs and earn sufficient returns to finance new investment.

The reform wave that began in the 1980s included an assault on the statutory authority model, motivated by the belief that all market services should be provided by private companies. The reform process typically involved a series of steps, beginning with corporatisation, then partial and finally complete privatisation.

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