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Issue #1464      21 July 2010

Fight against health privatisation in WA

In March this year the WA government put out tenders to take over support services at the Albany health campus in the south west. This would have meant that over 100 jobs at the new health campus would have been privatised and no doubt a decimation of numbers and a corresponding decrease in the services provided to the citizens of Albany.

Orderlies, laundry workers, engineering and catering staff, in fact all services under the level of registered nurses would have been affected as well as some services such as occupational therapy and physio. There has been a huge fight back in the city of Albany conducted mainly by members of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union (LHMU) that represent many of these workers with the involvement of the broader community.

The streets and shopping areas of this small city were plastered with anti- privatisation leaflets and petitions outlining the attempts and effects that the government’s policies of privatisation would have on this close knit community and the provision of health services in the region. The previous week news came through that the government’s plans to privatise these essential services has been stopped and the services would remain in public hands.

This is very good news not only for the people of that region of WA but for the metropolitan area also. It shows what can be achieved with community involvement in what are sometimes called’ ‘union issues’’. Accountability and service standards can now be maintained without the profit motive being foisted on these dedicated workers and the local community.

The fight against the WA government’s privatisation agenda must also be carried to the metro area as tenders are out now for the privatisation of all our public health care system’s essential services. The CPA urges all unionists and concerned citizens to be aware of these plans and to take a stand against this erosion of the public systems that serve the needs of hundreds of thousands of people in this state.

There are web sites such as the CPA site and inpublichands provided by the LHMU that give information on this threat to the vital services that is provided by your taxation as a service to all. It must be noted that the threat of privatisation not only comes at a state level. The federal government’s National Health and Hospital Reform Commission set up by Kevin Rudd is chaired by Christine Bennett, who is an ex CEO of BUPA, the largest private health insurer in the UK and now a very large player internationally. Talk about putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank!

Why has such a person been appointed to oversee the provision of public health services and its future direction at a national level? There has been little debate amongst rank-and-file ALP members and even less community debate as to the agenda and direction of this Commission.

The parameters of its reference were pre-decided by the ‘’kitchen cabinet’’ of Gillard, Roxon and Rudd to leave the massive private health subsidies in place and the maintaining of the ever growing private sector dominance in health.

Since the takeover of Gillard it appears that nothing has changed. So the scene is being set to attack our public systems on a federal level also. What is needed is to raise community awareness and to build the basis of a popular movement of citizens to oppose privatisation on whatever front it raises its head. Once our public systems are privatised it will take nothing short of revolution to return them to the public.

We urge working people to become involved in this fight to defend what is left of our public systems before we are all forced into the false and expensive’’ safe port ‘’of private insurance and the disastrous US style of medicine and health care that politicians are determined to force on us on behalf of big business and its insatiable profit grab.  

Next article – Book Review – Radical Sydney by Terry Irving & Rowan Cahill

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