The Australian Services Union (ASU) has warned that the Victorian Labor government led by Daniel Andrews is considering plans to partly privatise VicRoads. VicRoads is the government agency that oversees the road network, and looks after licensing and registration services.
The government is currently conducting a ‘scoping study’ and says it has not ruled out “working with the private sector” on road services.
There are concerns that because the government’s budget surplus is shrinking, they are looking to sell-off some assets, in the same way they sold off part of the land registry recently. Analysts estimate that the licensing and registration services part of the agency could fetch up to $1 billion.
The union has correctly said that any kind of outsourcing, privatisation or private sector involvement in VicRoads would mean higher costs, job cuts, lower staff wages, an erosion of services, the closing down of regional offices, and risks to the security of our personal data.
They want a guarantee that the agency will remain exclusively in public hands.
In one statement the ASU said: “This isn’t what anyone voted for when this government was re-elected in 2018. Daniel Andrews acknowledged the failures of privatisation just last year, reflecting with the benefit of history on the problems caused by past sell-offs of public assets. We’re asking him to rein in his Treasurer and protect these workers and their communities.”
The Liberal opposition in Victoria have also come out against the plan, albeit opportunistically. A spokesperson for opposition leader Michael O’Brien said: “This Labor government has a track record of shonky sell-offs which result in higher prices for consumers, such as the massive increase in port charges at the Port of Melbourne.”
The Liberals themselves have a long record of selling off public assets in Victoria, but the fact that they stand to the left of Labor on this issue makes a mockery of Daniel Andrews’ posturing as a ‘progressive’.
By Socialist Action reporters