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Issue #1851      December 5, 2018

Serco secrecy exposes Centrelink privatisation sham

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says the Morrison government’s extreme secrecy around its privatisation of critical Centrelink services confirms that the policy will only benefit multinational corporations.

Human Services Minister Michael Keenan has refused a Senate order to produce a report by global consulting giant KPMG, examining privatised Centrelink call centre services provided by multinational company Serco. Minister Keenan has claimed the KPMG report is a confidential Cabinet document, despite having publicly released selected sections of the report as justification for expanding the privatisation of Centrelink services to three other multinational corporations – Stellar, Datacom and Concentrix.

CPSU deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said: “The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has trashed Centrelink services while turning them into a cash cow for multinational corporations, and somehow thinks it can hide its damaging agenda by keeping this report secret. This government is treating both the Senate and the Australian public with contempt.

“Human Services Minister Michael Keenan has heavily spruiked this report in the media, but tellingly he’s only released a few tiny segments that don’t contradict his sales pitch for selling off Centrelink services. It seems the bits of the report the government likes are public but the bits it doesn’t must remain locked away.”

The union points out that it is damning that even a report prepared by KPMG, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Liberals’ love for privatising Commonwealth work, can’t be released to justify putting sensitive Centrelink services in the hands of multinational companies.

“From what we’ve seen Serco, Stellar, Datacom and Concentrix have a patchy record at best of providing services, yet this Government is handing these companies hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Donnelly.

“Ordinary Australians needing to access Centrelink know that service standards have really suffered under this Government, including the 48 million callers who couldn’t even get through on the phone at all in 2017-18. We recently surveyed members to get the real picture on how these costly privately-run call centres are undermining services, along with the growing use of labour hire arrangements.

“This government can’t be trusted with critical public services and has already begun to expand its privatisation agenda from Centrelink into Medicare, starting with the use of labour hire. Australians now know that a vote for the Coalition is a vote for more damaging cuts and privatisation in the Department of Human Services.”

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