Outsourcing Concerns Raised with CoA

  • 27 November 2013
Tony Shephard heads Abbott's CoA

CPSU has outlined a wide range of concerns about the potential outsourcing of Commonwealth government services in our submission to the Abbott Government’s National Commission of Audit.   The Commission of Audit’s brief is to review the scope, efficiency, size and functions of the Commonwealth government and where appropriate recommend cuts to jobs and services and outsourcing.   Despite widespread concerns about the pro-business make-up of the Commission of Audit and the tight timelines, the Community and Public Sector Union provided a detailed submission based on research and feedback from members and delegates.   CPSU’s 20-page submission argues that Government in Australia is not excessive in size or scope, is served by an effective public sector and has already been subject to significant fiscal constraint in recent years.   CPSU's submission also advocates for a positive role for Government and the public sector that enriches our nation and provides the support and services we need for a fair, safe and prosperous society.   As the audit commission is expected to recommend that large sections of government services are outsourced or privatised, the risks associated with the outsourcing was a key theme.  Our submission provided plenty of examples of privatisation and outsourcing failures, including fraud, a lack of quality control and accountability. These include:

 - a privatised prison service in Victoria that was handed back to the public service after a legion of problems.
 - the loss of quality control and the rising incidence of disease following the decision to hand the inspection of meat exports to private operators.
 - the case of a Serco contractor to the Immigration Department who received almost $100,000 in cash as kickbacks from construction companies for work on a detention centre.
 - the case of CenlTex which provided IT support to the Victorian government and was found to have overseen the improper awarding of up to $4 million worth of government contracts.
 - as well as a 2012 NSW Auditor General’s report which identified a “growing trend” of fraud in outsourced functions contracted to NGOs.

CPSU's submission also warned the privatisation of Medibank Private could lead to less competition, an increase in health premiums and fail to provide any long-term benefit to the community.