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.