Privatised Profits, Services Failure: Consumers Worse Off After Three Decades of Competition Policy

by Richard Denniss
(AAP Image/Lukas Coch)


New analysis from the Australia Institute shows that the privatisation, deregulation, and outsourcing of public services has failed to provide economic or social returns to Australians.

In light of reports that the Victorian Government is considering privatising the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Australia Institute – in a submission to the Productivity Commission’s National Competition Policy Analysis inquiry – recommends an urgent review of outsourced critical services such as electricity, aged, disability and childcare.

Key Findings:

  • Despite the establishment of the Productivity Commission and National Competition Policy in the 1990s, growth of GDP per hour worked has declined over the past three decades.
  • Neoliberal economic theory does not support the general conclusion that private ownership delivers lower costs, higher quality, or greater productivity than the public sector.
  • The report advocates for a comprehensive inquiry into the performance of privatised and outsourced public services.
  • This will likely involve bringing many services back into public control.

“The privatisation and outsourcing experiment of the past three decades has clearly failed,” said Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

“This failure is obvious to any Australian family paying for critical services like electricity, disability care, aged care or childcare.

“National Competition Policy promised Australians greater choice, better quality and lower prices for a wide range of essential services, but in reality it delivered lower quality, longer queues, and higher prices.

“And at the same time as competition policy was failing to improve public services, it was also failing to stop our private industries from becoming increasingly monopolised, profitable, and hard to deal with.

“The inquiry is a golden opportunity to put this failed neoliberal experiment behind us and ensure that, going forward, all Australians have access to affordable and efficient essential services.”

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