Privatisation fundamentalists never rest. It’s a religion, with politicians and many in the media believing (aka pretending) that “efficiency” will be achieved by selling off public assets. Dream on, suckers.
The Federal Government has quietly privatised its migrant language services across a large section of Sydney, drawing a furious response from teachers who will hit the streets today in protest.
The Adult Migrant English Program, which offers 500 hours of government-funded English classes to new migrants, is provided by a TAFE NSW-led consortium in significant parts of the inner city, west and south-west.
But the Department of Immigration and Citizenship is set to award the contract to a consortium led by multi-national education corporation Navitas, largely because it is offering to provide the service more cheaply.
“Obviously the successful tenderer represents the best value for money” a spokeswoman for the department said.
“The department is required to comply with commonwealth procurement policy and obviously a central tenet of that is competitive tendering,” she said.
The contract has been won by a consortium led by private provider Navitas, a multi-national company which spans a vast education empire.
The company’s net profit surged 31 per cent to $264.3 million last financial year, and its chief executive Rod Jones entered the BRW top 200 rich list with a personal wealth of $275 million.
It is set to provide services in the Blacktown, Central Western Sydney, Fairfield, Liverpool, Inner City and Inner West regions from July next year with assistance from small providers such as Mission Australia, Macquarie Community College and City East Community College.
Navitas and the Department said the quality of teaching would not fall as a result of the new provider.
But the president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Bob Lipscombe said Navitas teachers were paid less than their public counterparts and in many cases were not as well qualified.
“A key part of how you support people who enter through immigration is language skills,” Mr Lipscombe said.
“But where you’ve got profits at play and where the return to shareholders is a significant consideration, there is a real risk that the provision of those skills will be compromised.”
The state’s finances, the environment and households will be far worse off because of the Keneally government’s reckless power privatisation, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Dr Kaye said: “The awful truth is that the Keneally government in its last gasp has punctured a hole in the state’s future.
“Board members who resigned from the state-owned companies were right to label this as an irresponsible fire sale. Within seven years the state’s finances will be worse off.
“Treasurer Eric Roozendaal has squandered opportunities to use public ownership to reduce household electricity bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“He has destroyed the medium term security of hundreds of jobs in the retailers, and he has done so at a much smaller price than if the government had waited until there was more certainty about carbon prices and future coal costs.
“NSW households will face even higher electricity bills as the new private owners seek to extract more profit.
“The Keneally government has thrown away one of the most important keys to bringing down NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions. Private control over the baseload generators that produce more than 60 million tonnes of CO2 each year will make it much harder to reduce the state’s dependence on coal.