Strengthening the public sector

Principles

The Greens NSW believe that:

1. The public sector is best placed to respond to changing social, environmental and economic circumstances, and to enhance society’s capacity to pursue important goals such as justice, equity and environmental objectives and community services obligations; 

2. Public ownership can remove the requirement to maximise financial return and create opportunities to provide quality goods and services, protect disadvantaged groups and prevent environmental damage; 

3. Successive state and federal governments have been driven by a neo-liberal agenda that has resulted in the privatisation of public services and assets at the expense of long-term social, economic and environmental outcomes; 

4. Greater public ownership will strengthen the influence of the  community  in decision making and enhance opportunities for public participation; 

5. Public ownership contributes to higher employment and enhanced working conditions, including best-practice safety standards; 

6.Public ownership of services and infrastructure allows for greater control over the price and accessibility of essential services, including in remote areas, and consequently ensures equality of  accessibility regardless of ability to pay; 

7. Public ownership works against the creation of private monopolies; 

8. Public ownership safeguards against a focus on short-term profit and allows for more investment in research and development; 

9. Public ownership enhances the ability of trade unions to represent workers and thus helps to protect workers from inadequate remuneration and deteriorating working conditions; 

10. Public ownership prevents private owners of public utilities exercising undue political influence including through political donations; 

11. Public ownership and control must be subject to native title and respect for the prior custodianship and occupation of country by Aboriginal peoples; 

12. Public ownership of strategic infrastructure and services enhances the strength of a democracy by increasing cooperation and empowering communities. 

Aims 

Public assets and services

The Greens NSW will: 

13. Seek to restore public ownership and control of public services, corporations and assets that have been privatised; 

14. Oppose any legislation including corporatisation that seeks to promote or lays a foundation for the subsequent privatisation of any public utility, service or infrastructure; 

15. Oppose the introduction of competitive tendering for public services or infrastructure; 

16. Seek to repeal the private certification of building developments; 

17. Oppose the sale of public assets such as mineral rights and electromagnetic spectrum frequencies. Private access to these assets should be restricted to leases and licences. 

Electricity

The Greens NSW oppose privatisation of any aspect of the electricity industry and support restored and continued public ownership because privatisation has and continues to: 

18. increase costs to consumers and reduce quality of supply of an essential service; 

19. Place at risk jobs and the quality of employment within the electricity industry; 

20. Compromise opportunities to improve the environmental performance of the electricity industry, especially with respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and 

21. Reduce the economic benefits to the state that can flow from the electricity industry. 

Water

The Greens NSW oppose privatisation of water supply infrastructure and sewerage as it would lead to: 

22. Further deterioration in water quality such as an increase in the risks of Giardia and Cryptosporidium infection, further compromising community health, which is dependent on high quality, affordable water; 

23. Rising consumer prices; 

24. Loss of jobs; 

25. Harm to the environment, especially in catchment areas; 

26. Secrecy and loss of transparency and accountability to customers and the general public; and 

27. As community expectations increase, loss of government control over water provision services will make it more difficult to require those services to be upgraded. 

Human (welfare) services 

The Greens NSW: 

28. Oppose the increasingly common application by governments of market mechanisms to the financing and delivery of welfare services, amidst pressures to cut social expenditure, maximise efficiency and reduce the size of government; 

29. Oppose the trend towards privatisation of human services. Individuals and families do not have an equal capacity to purchase the goods and services they need, and for this reason government intervention is important; 

30. Believe human services are fundamentally different from other types of business and production, and this needs to be reflected in the way in which governments fund and deliver human services; 

31. Believe that a well-funded public sector is best placed to monitor and regulate of welfare services; 

32. Support the leading role and responsibility of government with regard to the provision and monitoring of human services, because:

a.    All people in New South Wales have a basic and universal right to services;

b.    The service is entitlement-based, with defined eligibility criteria;

c.    The service has a statutory or social control function;

d.    There are efficiency gains in the service being delivered by government;

e.    Government intervention is needed to rectify market failure for disadvantaged people or localities; and

f.     The public sector is best positioned to ensure equal access to human services for disadvantaged groups free from discrimination 

Competitive tendering and contracting out: local government 

The Greens NSW: 

33. believe that only public ownership and control of core local government services can deliver the best outcomes, and therefore are opposed to:

a.    compulsory competitive tendering and the voluntary contracting out of core and regulatory local government services;

b.    private certification in the development assessment process;

34. are concerned that compulsory competitive tendering and contracting out of core and regulatory local government services leads to:

a.    Negative impact on employees, including the loss of jobs and job security, reduced wages and conditions, and the alienation of certain sectors of the workforce including women, disadvantaged employees and those from non- English speaking backgrounds;

b.    Reduced democratic control over service provision;

c.    Increased power to managers at the expense of elected members and employees;

d.    Negative reorganisation of services, which will lead to complexity and confusion for the public and increased alienation for users;

e.    Loss of in-house service expertise;

f.     An absence of major financial savings to local councils;

g.    A decline in the quality of services;

h.    Reduction in access to information (for example limited access under the Freedom of Information Act due to the commercial in-confidence exemption); and

i.      Disadvantages to consumers because the quality and quantity of services would decline and they would be unable to pursue their concerns against service providers; 

35. will work to remove incentives for councils to privatise services; 

36. will introduce legislation prohibiting privatisation and the contracting out of core and regulatory local government services; 

37. will encourage local councils who engage in contracting out to revert to in house services; 

Public airspace 

The Greens NSW: 

38. Favour appropriate public-transport-oriented development, but strongly reject the sale of public lands that could serve other community and public sector applications. In particular, the Greens NSW oppose the sale of airspace over railway and other public-transport infrastructure because the private development of such airspace will:

38.1 Compromise any future public transport expansion options;

38.2 Reduce the amenity of public transport, thereby encouraging a modal shift to private vehicles;

38.3 Drive inappropriate over-development of the surrounding areas;

38.4 Destroy, through airspace development, the significant heritage value that many stations have;

39. Will seek to legislate to stop the sale of public lands and airspace for development, including the airspace over railway and bus stations. 

Public sector procurement 

The Greens NSW believe that the public sector procurement practices should be used to drive environmental and social change and as such will work towards:    

40. Introducing legislation to require procurement policies to take into account “quadruple bottom line” principles including the environmental, social, ethical and economic costs of products and services acquired;      

41. Prioritising producers and manufactures who practise Extended Producer Responsibility; 

42. Prioritising locally manufactured goods and services and using procurement policy to foster the development of local industries; 

43. Ensuring that goods sourced by government agencies are manufactured by companies that comply with the international labour standards;    

44. The development of a clear and accountable e-waste policy to ensure that electronic goods no longer used by the public sector do not end up in landfill or are exported to countries with unsafe and unregulated waste-management systems;  

45. All paper and paper products sourced by government agencies being, at a minimum, Forest Stewardship Council certified with the intention of transitioning to 100 per cent recycled products; 

46. Encourage all government agencies to adopt catering standards that respect animal welfare standards and to commit to providing vegetarian and vegan options at catered events, meetings and subsidised eateries;

47. Increased transparency in procurement process and products;

48. Preferential purchasing from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-managed companies.