The Guardian February 16, 2000


Sell-off mania in South Australia

While South Australian bus drivers continue to picket against loss of 
jobs, wages and conditions due to the privatisation of the entire public 
bus service, the Government has announced that its plans to sell the TAB 
and SA Lotteries before the end of the year.

Five private companies won the contracts to run the publicly-owned 
TransAdelaide bus services. They are now looking to get rid of 235 of the 
1,300 TransAdelaide employees and to use individual employment contracts to 
ditch the current award wages and conditions.

Transport Minister Diana Laidlaw blamed the bus workers and their unions 
for TransAdelaide losing the work to private companies in the tendering 
process  the tendering process is highly subjective and can be used to 
favour some tenderers over others for any reason, including political 
reasons.

The Government's objective is to turn as much public property into private-
for-profit property as it possibly can.

It has a "don't give a damn" attitude towards its responsibilities to 
provide services for people and is prepared to forego future revenue from 
profitable services that could be have been put back into society to fund 
public hospitals and schools.

SA Lotteries, for instance, last financial year contributed $82.3 million 
in funding for the State's public hospitals.

It is likely that if privatised the new private operators would, at first, 
be forced to continue to contribute a certain amount for this purpose, 
while safeguarding the profit levels to be creamed off by the private 
owners.

Meanwhile the public sector cuts will continue, hospitals close, class 
sizes rise, and jobs lost as governments plead lack of money  money they 
have given away through privatisation.

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