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The Forum > Article Comments > Funding people, not institutions > Comments

Funding people, not institutions : Comments

By Wilson Tuckey, published 5/7/2005

Wilson Tuckey argues governments should stay out of business and allow private operators to provide services.

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Sometimes I wish words would fail me. It appears Mr Tuckey's preference for Australian society is that it become more like China's. Sadly, we already appear to have the one-party state. This piece exemplifies the purblind free-market cargo-cult mentality of the present Coalition government. Just a few questions. In Mr Tuckey's ideal world, will the unemployed have to pay for health services (and please let's not pretend there will be no unemployment)? Has anyone ever bothered to explain to him that private hospitals work very well for surgical cases, but less well for medical cases medical cases take longer to treat, and are not cost-effective for profit-making institutions which depend on rapid throughput. If the market is to decide, will we see the standard treatment for pneumonia become the removal of a lung? And has it ever occurred to the Honourable Member that, notwithstanding Mrs Thatcher's characteristically simplistic dictum, a great many very able people are not "in business" because they are not interested in it, or think they could be doing something more worthy? I seem to recall Mr Tuckey was in business. Did he become a politician because he realised he was a failure? Or because he thought he had something to offer the country? Oh, and one last thing. Those actuaries. Who were they, who commissioned the analysis, and what were they asked to find? References, please.
Posted by anomie, Tuesday, 5 July 2005 12:04:49 PM
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What needs to be carefully thought through here is what, exactly, do we want our Government to do? And the answer to that should dictate whether Mr Tuckey is on the right track or not.

I for one fear the future of my health in the private sector; their concept of "customer care" extends only to my ability to pay, and their ability to supply. Economically speaking, the most profitable client base is the rich, and the most effective use of surgery-time is cosmetic. The business manager will ensure that my stay in hospital is the shortest possible, and the resources expended upon me the minimum they can get away with.

Nor would I be happy to entrust the education of my children to a purely profit-driven establishment. Once again, resources will follow the money; quality teachers will be attracted by quality salaries to quality establishments, which can be afforded only by the well-off. Good recipe for the clever country? Don't think so.

Nor am I particularly interested in paying private companies for the use of our roads, or the use of our railway tracks, or the use of our cable infrastructure, or for our water supplies and so on. Simply stated, these companies will place their needs ahead of mine, and charge me the maximum they can get away with for my use of what once, at least, was considered a common good.

It is probably too late, the foxes are already loose in the hen-house, but it really bugs me that we have allowed ourselves to be highjacked by the illusion that "private is best". The Banks already extract a thousand dollars of profit from every man, woman and child in our country. How much more will the further privatization of services pull out of our pockets in the name of "efficient government"?
Posted by Pericles, Tuesday, 5 July 2005 3:40:38 PM
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Mr Tuckey's comments sound a little utopian to me. In an ideal world some of his suggestions may work. My feeling is that health, education, main roads, police are better left as non-profit public sector organisations. That way they can remain open and accountable as they all have many levels of complexity to offer acceptible standards of care for the majority. Only where true cost benefits can be assured, with appropriate proviso's, and no reduction in quality/quantity of service, might it be feasible and desirable to increase private involvement.
Regards . . Camb
Posted by Camb, Tuesday, 5 July 2005 4:31:15 PM
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Might be getting near time to get the guillotine out of the shed.
Posted by mikeed, Tuesday, 5 July 2005 9:26:23 PM
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Mr Tuckey is spot on. I am glad that somebody from within the socialist stong hold that is Canberra still has the guts and brains to recognise a good idea. One that is long overdue.

To the earlier post that asked how the unemployed would pay for such things. With the voucher!! Duh
Posted by Terje, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 12:07:21 AM
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Wilson once again falls for the idea that a free market benefits everyone equally. Free markets create unequal benefits with tiered service provision developing quite quickly. It happens in every free market example you can think of. So it amazes me that people can think that same how it wouldn't happen in Australia for education and health care wake up to yourself. Please give a example where is doesn't.
Posted by Kenny, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 11:46:49 AM
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