Does anyone know someone with a good news story about a job network service provider? I would love to find one. Even Diogenes wouldn’t bother; they are as rare as CSG advocates.
Remember the old CES (Commonwealth Employment Service)? If you needed a job in the `80s, you could just stroll in off the street and mosey around the job boards. If you liked something you wrote down the reference number or grabbed the card. The friendly people at the counter then arranged an interview. Cards were visible from the street; a very public service.
So what happened there? The employment service was outsourced, ie. privatised.
As remorseless divestment of government responsibility continues, who measures the effectiveness of privatisation? If the Productivity Commission was assigned this task, would the results warrant continuation? Certainly an economic argument supports corporatisation but does this outweigh sending jobs offshore, reducing services, sham contracting, phoenixing and foreign ownership?
The privatisation of the CES has decomposed to the point at which our tax money is going to the US as profit to foreign-owned businesses that are paid to find Gippslanders jobs in Gippsland.
The genesis of privatisation lies in an inferiority complex. Governments lack faith in their ability to oversee their public service so they outsource accountability and fiscal responsibility to private enterprise. Business always knows how to do it better. Issues arise when the definition of “better” is buried within policy. Better for whom? The problem of governance remains as government has less ability, and just as little wit or will, to control business; it can only threaten or cajole.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is being trialled in Geelong before being rolled out across the nation. The public perception is that this will deliver a bucketload of money to bring equality to the disabled. By definition, the NDIS is our national insurance policy. How did privatised Commonwealth Bank insurance work for the betterment of clients? In that privatised world, “client” equalled “victim”.
Since 2013 state governments of both hues have been working on a plan to “contract out” particular functions of the Department of Health and Human Services. How can handing over provision of services to profit-driven, third-party providers foster anything other than cost cutting and lowered expectations? How can a middle person do anything but diminish the service or raise the price?
If you think contracting out a disability service is a good idea, wait five years. I am sure Four Corners will be there to tell us what happened.
Last year the Mayne report published the details of 25 years of privatisation in Australia. The list is longer than five pages, closely typed. There are some successes, some failures and quite a few windfall gains to folk who purchased Government assets. One of the highlights is CSL, floated for $300 million in 1994 and now worth over $20 billion. Another is Queensland TAB. Sold by the Queensland Government as 134 million $2 shares in 1999, then taken over by TABCORP five years later, its investors enjoyed returns approaching 1000 per cent.
Many years ago service station attendants abandoned the courtyard for the console. The people who handle my cash are employed by the supplier of my petrol. Why can’t the people who supply my electricity handle my money? A smart meter can report back to any computer in any office. The computer that bills me reaps without sowing. Parasitic is a tad harsh but it seems like an appropriate description.
There are only a handful of publicly owned and operated enterprises left. Maybe we should hold a plebiscite before it is too late.
June 5, 2016
Just read Geoff's article on job searching, he must be younger than me. Wonthaggi's "job agency" in the early eighties consisted of turning up at the counter of Bluey Reillys drapery shop in Graham Street (near the Caledonian Hotel – fortuitously!) where there was zero privacy, and a wooden box full of job prospects. Depending on if you appeared dishevelled (ie. a surfer) or respectable, you received the tick for another fortnight’s dole, followed by a celebratory visit to the Cally front bar – if the surf wasn't pumping.
In contrast, my disability job provider has many layers of staff, glossy corporate mission statements, and a complete lack of actual assistance. In 12 months of attendance they are yet to help me even write a resume. No wonder the lucky country is but a pale shadow of itself! I wonder at the comparison between Bluey's costs and that of the modern version – something for the "responsible authorities" to ponder when they next compare the lifters and leaners.
Mark Robertson, Wonthaggi
June 5, 2016
Geoff’s article on the CES brought back memories of my own dealings with that great institution in the 1980s. I used to spend six months of the year in New Zealand (avoiding the Melbourne summer) and six months in Melbourne (avoiding the NZ winter). On my annual return to Melbourne, I’d head to the CES to see what was on the jobs board. In those days, staff would arrange job interviews and ask kindly whether you had enough money for the fare to get there and to pay your rent until you got paid!
Often I landed a job the same day. Memorable gigs included working as a kitchen hand at Collingwood Football Club, working in a nursing home and writing a local history. Bring back the CES!
Catherine Watson, Wonthaggi