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Operation Sell Off

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Finn G.              3 July 2019

The South Australian Liberal government is poised to privatise the “operations” of its rail networks, and is soon to release tenders for both the train and tram networks.
It comes as no surprise to many of us that the Marshall government would sell anything and everything, even that which is bolted to the floor (bolts included). The only surprise being that it’s taken them this long to do it after being elected in March 2018.
However, privatisation is not a word that the South Australian public react favourably to, even many rusted on Liberal voters appear to be at odds with the decision as can be seen on Marshall’s Facebook page. Given the history of privatisation in S.A and its deplorable results this comes as little surprise. Just ask any Adelaide resident how well things have gone since the sale of its water and electricity assets and you’ll have to duck for cover.
But worry not people of South Australia, Mr. Marshall’s ‘online posse’ has been posting the following cut and paste response to the plebs who dare raise concerns:
Hi xxxx, nothing is being sold? (sic)
Under this model, the State Government will retain control of services and will;
- Retain ownership of rail assets, including trains, trams, tracks and stations;
- Set requirements for levels of services;
- Continue to set the fare price for travel on trains and trams;
- Retain the revenue
Regards, Marshall Team
What a relief! The only thing being sold is the operations, the part of the service that manages how the whole system is run and how many people are employed to run it………..
Given past examples of how poorly the Lib/Lab coalition of the shilling have prioritised “control of services” and “levels of services” it’s safe to assume that these aspects will continue to be eroded.
According to Transport Minister Stephan Knoll this method of privatisation will give the people of S.A better services and better savings, just like what happened with water and electricity eh Stephan? Similar circumstances experienced at home and abroad generally show that Governments cash in (not those who they claim to represent mind you) whilst the services go downhill unless the private contractors are heavily regulated and managed. Given the conservative mantra against government regulation and “red tape”, it’s safe to assume that little to none of this management will become a reality.
The only winner will be the private company who comes in, guts the organisation to a bare boned operation in order to maximise their own profits. The public never come out victorious when it comes to privatisation and those who rely on public transport are rightly extremely worried about the impacts of this latest act of treason.
The largest example of this type of sale is the London Underground. Services and safety fell into disarray when aspects of the network were sold into private hands in the period between 2000 and 2003. This arrangement came to an end in 2010 after private companies went into administration and the Underground was once again placed into public hands approximately 20 years earlier than the private contract was to expire. Half a billion pounds of public money was squandered in the setting up and dismantling of this absolute dog’s breakfast.
Mr Knoll feels differently about the London experience; he feels that many parts of the system operated well under outsourcing. One cannot but assume that these success stories weren’t connected to better results for the patrons of the services.
An undoubted rise in ticket prices and job losses will be another kick in the teeth to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society as they stare down the barrel of the looming recession where covering the cost of living is an impossibility. Many people will become prisoners in their own homes, unable to cover the cost of getting from A to B whilst putting more strain on those who care for them in the case of the elderly and disabled. But this of course is of little consequence for any capitalist government as their only goal is to reach a fabled surplus and to collect as many kickbacks and favourable employment opportunities for themselves in the future.
It is most important that privatisation is loudly opposed by the class conscious and explained to those who may not have a grasp on such situations every time it rears its ugly head. The people of South Australia must not let this happen without banging the drum of defiance.
The Anti-Poverty Network S.A is holding a rally outside the offices of the Liberal Party at 104 Greenhill Road on Monday 15 July at 12PM to oppose the planned sell-off.


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