Serco expands its reach into West Australian justice

Here’s how corporate government works in the modern age. Multinationals, such as Serco, talk about “efficiency” and “saving money” and are given more contracts even though their own record of appropriate delivery and transparency are far from optimal (and that’s being uber kind).

So this news is hardly surprising. Welcome to your privatised world:

The [Western] State Government has announced prominent government-services company Serco has been awarded preferred tender status to run WA’s prisoner transport, court security and custodial services operations.

Serco has been in the public eye in recent months over its handling of the contract to manage Australia’s immigration detention centres in the wake of asylum seeker riots at Christmas Island and Villawood.

Serco is set to win the WA custodial services contract from incumbent G4S, which presided over the tragic death of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward who died in the back of an unair-conditioned prison van in January 2008.

Serco is also in line to win a lucrative contract to provide a raft of services to the new Fiona Stanley hospital – something that is the subject of a union campaign.

Corrective Services Minister Terry Redman said the new contract would run for five years with two options that could see it extended to a maximum of 10 years.

He claimed the new contract would deliver “improved quality of service” with “a focus on duty of care and the delivery of all services in a safe, humane and decent manner”.

The existing $25 million-a-year contract provides that it can be terminated only after two separate deaths in custody in a year, it was revealed in March to a parliamentary committee.

At the time, Department of Corrective Services Commissioner Ian Johnson said the new contract would see that provision changed in the new contract to just one death.

G4S and two prison guards have been charged by WorkSafe under occupational health and safety laws over Mr Ward’s death.

Serco will negotiate a contract with the Department of Corrective Services. Assuming negotiations proceed smoothly, Serco will take over custodial services responsibilities on July 31.