Finally, some light on Serco but so much more needed

At last, some coverage in the Australian media about Serco, the British multinational running the country’s detention centres. It doesn’t offer much new – and there is a desperate need for a thorough examination of the real relationship between Serco and the government – so more, please:

On Monday before the 36-year-old Fijian Josefa Rauluni fell to his death from a rooftop at Villawood detention centre, staff of the British company managing the centre, Serco, hauled mattresses to the footpath to break his fall. It was a busy day for Serco.

In Ireland its employees were managing the nation’s traffic lights. In the US they were running prisons, border security and defence systems. Public transport kept them busy in Dubai and South Australia. Welfare-to-work programs, schools, prisons and detention centres (or ”custodial accommodation” in company literature) were administered in Britain. Serco people were building military hospitals in Germany and helping to decommission US military bases in Iraq.

Some of Serco’s 70,000 staff were running both a new bicycle network in London and Britain’s five-satellite military communications network – evidently to inflame conspiracy theorists, it is called Skynet, the name of the evil computer system hell-bent on destroying mankind in the Terminator films.

Serco even manages Greenwich Mean Time.

There is a common factor in this apparently disparate $5 billion operation: Serco does the things governments no longer want to do.

”They are like a living organism that has found a very rich payload of nutrients and they are growing faster and faster,” says the NSW MP John Kaye, who has a keen interest in the growth of the private sector in the public sphere.