National’s Privatisation Agenda Continues

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, November 4th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: bill english, health, prisons, public services, same old national - Tags: , ,

Prisons and hospitals – the sort of thing that only the US thinks should be in private hands – oh, and apparently National.  They obviously like America’s economic position and are desperate to copy it.

* It has been confirmed that there is to be a private prison at Wiri “designed, built, financed, maintained and run by the private sector.”  All prisoners would remain the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections though, as they must, leaving the private prison company to be “all care, no responsibility” – no doubt with the sort of record that that philosophy usually results in.

The Government apparently expects that a private prison, run with a fat profit on the side, will somehow be cheaper than one run by the state.  The only way that the prison could be run cheaper is if they reduce prison officers’ pay and conditions or the “safe” number of prison officers per prisoner – another way for National to screw the workers.  Will they convince current prison officers to work under such conditions, or get a new lot who are less experienced and qualified and don’t know better?

And where will the money for this new prison go?  Overseas.  Ms Collins says: “Only consortia with experienced and reputable builders and prison operators will be considered.”  As there are no experienced prison builders and operators in New Zealand, that’ll be foreign companies coming in and taking our taxpayer dollars.  Thanks.

* Also in South Auckland major hospital services are to be contracted out, eroding the capacity of public hospitals.  Tony Ryall, picking up the baton from Judith Collins is keen for Counties-Manukau to no longer provide services for prostate cancer, kidney stones and urinary tract infections.  The Board seem less keen:

“Our preferred position will be to have our own urology service in concert with ADHB to service the needs of the whole region.”

The senior doctors union is concerned, saying that National’s promise to add 20 elective surgery theatres nationally was about building public capacity. “This seems to be going in the other direction.”

The Greens say this will “erode the public sector’s ability to provide … services” and encourage the migration of specialist doctors from the public sector to the private.

But National will continue to pursue their privatisation agenda…

Update: Tony Ryall pushes Auckland District Health Board chief out to put in people who will further his agenda…

. It is very likely that international companies will partner with local businesses and organisations to provide local knowledge, advice and services.”All prisoners would remain the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections.

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24 comments on “National’s Privatisation Agenda Continues”

  1. jbanks 1

    Good to see National doing what needs to be done.

    “The taskforce unapologetically offers much the same prescription as it did last year, advocating a higher pension entitlement age, cuts to “middle class welfare” payments that recycle tax to the people who paid it in the first place, lower tax rates, lower government spending as a proportion of the economy, privatisation, regulatory reform, and resisting the temptation to “pick winners”.”

    • Bored 1.1

      Yeah, it will be informative to see the ambulance man ask if you have private insurance before he will come out to you when you have a heart attack, just like the good old USA. We really need to follow their private example. Maybe just kill the poor through neglect, so long as your mates can have private gain.

      • Well I grew up with the Wellington Free Ambulance on tap but I’m told you’re up for a bill in other parts of NZ already?

        In Australia the starting price is about $400, so the predictable happens – people, especially poor people, are dying rather than risk spending a week’s wages on what might be a trip to the hospital to find out that chest pain is just indigestion.

        So now the government is responding with an injection of millions of dollars. No, not to subsidise ambulances, silly. To pay for expensive TV commercials explaining the symptoms of a heart attack and telling people “Don’t hesitate to dial 000 as soon as you feel anything”.

        • Bored

          Revenue alert, revenue alert, revenue alert …….so true Rex.

        • Vicky32

          “Well I grew up with the Wellington Free Ambulance on tap but I’m told you’re up for a bill in other parts of NZ already?”
          That is true. My son had cardiac issues a few years ago, and got a bill, even though he actually worked at the same hospital! (What else was he supposed to have done, hey? Get a bus?)

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      NZ has learnt the hard lesson that selling off our silverware makes our collective household poorer.

      Everyone except for Brash and jbanks of course.

    • Bunji 1.3

      That’s not what National is doing, that’s the spoutings of their far-right taskforce established to make them look moderate. They simply advocate more of the policies that got us so far behind Australia in the first place. National will reject the report and instead continue doing the same amount of those policies and aim to look “centrist.” No change here, says the Do Nothing Government (elected on the promise of “change”).

      National are hardly resisting the temptation to “pick winners” with the Hobbit, and have promised not to raise the pension age on their rapidly ageing membership. If they want to lower government spending they could do with lowering unemployment, but we see no action there either…

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    If they want to lower government spending they could do with lowering unemployment, but we see no action there either…

    You forgot about the cycleways.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    The PPP for the new Auckland prison is an example of woolley thinking.
    They say the builders/operators will be carefull not to do a shoddy job because they will have to maintain it for 25 years.
    Yeah right! We all know what will happen for the last 5 years. The deferred maintenance will increase since they are handing it over anyway and thats when big savings can be made. In spite of having ‘free labour’ for many tasks.

    Im sure in other areas will be shortcuts as well, ie the financial side of it.

    The private partners will be Wall St money lenders, a local construction company and a prison management company. The first two are well known as rapacious profit takers and the third dont have a great reputation elsewhere

    • Yeah right! We all know what will happen for the last 5 years. The deferred maintenance will increase since they are handing it over anyway and thats when big savings can be made. In spite of having ‘free labour’ for many tasks.

      You may well be right. But have you seen the inside of a publicly owned prison? When I was (briefly) in Rimutaka, water came in through the roof and ran down the walls when it rained. I found this out from the elderly prisoner being transported back from hospital after slipping, falling, and fracturing his hip.

      It’s slightly better in Australia but not by much. Which is why prisoners queue to be transferred to the privately owned (and relatively new) prison. Perhaps when it’s coming to the end of it’s life the scenario you envisage will occur. But from an “end user” perspective there’s absolutely no doubt that conditions in the private prison – both physical and in terms of the respect accorded by staff – are far superior to state-run operations.

      Which is not in itself a reason to privatise. But simply to stave off privatisation and then leave things as they are is, I assure you, not what prisoners would want.

      • felix 3.1.1

        Do you think the conditions in the “privately owned (and relatively new) prison” are better because of the “privately owned” bit or the “relatively new” bit though?

        You know how when people switch from a Windows PC to a Mac and they attribute the speed and performance to some kind of “Apple magic” when really any brand new fully spec’d computer feels like that?

    • Vicky32 3.2

      Haven’t we already tried the private prison route and had it fail? (The remand section at Mt Eden is what I am thinking of.) Private prisons are absolutely a heaping helping of crazy!

      • Bored 3.2.1

        Vicky and Rex, I for one care not about the economics of private versus public incarceration: my issue is entirely a moral stance: it is in my mind totally immoral to benefit from anothers misery. We send people to jail to punish them for inflicting misery, to make a profit from inflicting misery on the punished surely also deserves a jail term.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          That has a certain nice logical symmetry Bored, and the part of me that adheres to principle even agrees.

          However theres also the part of me that works with prisoners and goes into private and public prisons and talks to prisoners; that sees the way most state prison officers treat prisoners (indifference through to hostility… one’s just been sacked after being caught rubbing a female prisoner’s toothbrush round her toilet bowl during a cell search!); that sees the way the private operator here treats prisoners (the “CEO” – they’re not allowed to be called Superintendent – is on first name terms with them); and, above all, sees prisoners viewing a transfer to the private prison as a privilege to such an extent that they not only queue for a transfer but actively resist being transferred out to lower security prisons closer to their families because conditions are so good…

          That part of me would like to see that operator (which is not Wackenhutt or G4S or any of those who do fit your paradigm) given a chance in NZ.

          Because if we saw what prisons could be, maybe we’d start demanding Barry Matthews lift his game or **** off.

          • Bored

            Rex, I am sure that some operators can be a lot better than the state: that is more a criticism of our societal indifference to those we incarcerate as reflected through our state. It parallels the way we as a society hold the less well off and those on benefits as a cost, unworthy and unwanted.

  4. Vicky32 4

    Good point, Bored!

  5. Jeremy Harris 5

    Prison privatisation is something both Greens and Libertarians oppose…

    When Greens and Libertarians oppose something – it’s a bad idea…

  6. Jeremy Harris 6

    Mainly because they genuinely hate each other and disagree on almost everything except for drugs and Republicanism…

    • felix 6.1

      I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. There are certainly different approaches in some areas but both philosophies have a strong liberal basis and often intersect politically on social issues.

      If they were agreeing on economic policy, that’d be more noteworthy.

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