Sims casts doubt on privatisation value to economy

ACCC chairman airs disillusionment with how sell-offs have been handled

Sims casts doubt on privatisation value to economy
Rod Sims says how privatisation is being conducted is damaging the economy


Privatisation Australian style has taken a huge hit from former keen supporter and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims.

In a widely reported speech to the Melbourne Economic Forum, an "exasperated" Sims critiqued how ports, along with electricity infrastructure and the vocational education sector, were sold in an anti-competitive way that injected extra costs into the economy.

"It is increasing prices, let’s call it out," he is quoted as saying.

He charges that both state and federal governments were guilty of seeking the maximise returns from such sales at the expense of creating private monopolies, dispensing with proper regulation and lowering productivity and efficiency.

The value proposition of privatisation was more efficient ways of using assets and running services, but the upshot has been poor implementation leading to a loss of public support for idea and a cynicism surrounding economic reform.

Sims wants governments to look again at what they are trying to achieve.

The intervention is general enough to include the federal government’s ‘asset recycling’ policy, which encourages states to engage in sales but appears to have little oversight on what is chosen or how it should be undertaken.

Asset recycling has been backed by elements in the transport and logistics industry as a way of financing crucial transport and supply chain infrastructure projects.

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