There’s more than one way to fleece the public of our assets. While attention is rightly on the big sell-offs of the energy companies, there’s also privatisation in the form of public organisations selling or giving away parts of their operations (eg Orcon), and opening public funding to for-profit companies (eg. charter schools). More seems on the cards for our state housing as National offers to give over control to private organisations.
I’m deeply suspicious of public funding being extended to unaccountable NGOs in this manner. It makes cost-control and quality-assurance harder. It’s an invitation to corruption – a whole new layer of checks usually has to be invented within the public funders to keep an eye on the NGO providers. And there’s often little proof that outcomes are actually better. Whanau Ora is the classic example of how out-sourcing a government service to private, semi-amateur groups results costs a lot and delivers little, and is blighted by corruption.
And will there actually be any more affordable housing as a result of National’s changes? Or will state houses just become privatised? That’s the test – if National’s not increasing the number of families getting good quality affordable housing in a cost-effective manner, then they’ve achieved nothing.