Category: Privatisation

In Cold Blood: how privatisation of CSL abandoned the victims of Australia’s public health tragedy – Michael West

infected blood scandal

Pharmaceutical giant CSL is one of Australia’s greatest corporate success stories, although its profits were forged on the sacrifice of the many thousands of Australians who gave their blood for free. In the 1980s, blood products manufactured by CSL infected thousands of Australians with Hepatitis C and HIV/Aids. Before the true extent of the medical disaster became clear, and just months before CSL’s privatisation, the then Labor government granted Commonwealth Serum Laboratories an indemnity from legal action arising from the contaminated blood. In this first part, Elizabeth Minter investigates CSL’s role. Part 2 will look at the role of the Red Cross.

Source: In Cold Blood: how privatisation of CSL abandoned the victims of Australia’s public health tragedy – Michael West

Is the concept of a caring corporation an oxymoron? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

For years I have argued that privatisation of service provision ensures a lowering of standards of service and an increase in cost to the receiver of the service. I am yet to be persuaded that I am wrong, and to that I would add my belief that the fact that shareholders’ needs are put ahead of all other demands on the corporation, no service which involves caring for vulnerable people should ever be in private hands!

Is the concept of a caring corporation an oxymoron? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Philanthropy, the Twiggy Forrest way

Tony Abbott tried to set up a Climate Council within our Universities with the cheap $4million Bribe and Dr Bjorn Blomborg sold to us by News Corp as the world’s foremost intellect on Climate Change why? So Abbott could control “his” argument on Climate. Abbott did much the same supporting the Ramsay Foundation’s bribe of Universities to control our Culture and History. Again with the full backing and sale by News Corp The Spectator and Quadrant.

Twiggy Forrest is doing an Abbott controlling his Philanthropic Grant to consolidate his and Mining’s message on Climate. This isn’t generosity driven by any means but rather a bribe and grab for power and the privatisation of the  Science much the same as when big Tobacco and Big Pharma wanted to control the research and thus the message vitally needed to serve their interests rather than the Common Good . Forrest is a Miner afterall. (ODT)

What Andrew Forest does is avoid paying tax and instead makes donations, so that he gets to control who and how the money is used, while also building up his reputation as a good Aussie bloke.

Not one Australian has voted for Twiggy and yet he helps set government policy, along with his profiteering climate change denier mates.

A true philanthropist is one that gives; not one who seeks fame and glory or the power to control how their gift is used.

It’s likely that Andrew Twiggy Forest is far from a true philanthropist.

via Philanthropy, the Twiggy Forrest way

Mate Versus Mate: Inside ScoMo’s billion-dollar visa privatisation – Michael West

Mate Versus Mate: Inside ScoMo’s billion-dollar visa privatisation

On the basis of the limited information provided to the public to date, the business and risk case for privatising visa processing appears highly questionable.

Is the government prepared to be open with the Australian public and Parliament about this high-risk initiative?

Will the Australian public be comfortable with these extraordinary risks being taken on our behalf with such a core government function?

And how long before taxpayers have to bail out the department because one or more of these risks materialises?

It really is a gamble that’s just not worth taking. (Abul Rizvi left the Australian Public Service in 2015 as a deputy secretary and is currently undertaking a PhD on Australia’s immigration policies. He was a senior official in the Department of Immigration from the early 1990s to 2007. )

via Mate Versus Mate: Inside ScoMo’s billion-dollar visa privatisation – Michael West

The neoliberalist downfall of energy and the NBN


‘Among the many failures of micro-economic reform in Australia, the failure of the NEM has been the most spectacular. Not only have none of the promises of reform been delivered but the price increases [that] reform has driven have been used as evidence to obstruct the shift to a decarbonised electricity supply.’


The review was a scam. It used an inflated discount rate to deflate the estimated net present value of the FTTP option. It used a false shortened timeframe for an MTM rollout to inflate the NPV of the MTM. The long-term benefits of FTTP were buried under a mountain of propaganda.

Ridge concludes (p.235):

[The third-rate outcome results from] a combination of political opportunism and partisanship on the part of the Coalition Government and its intellectual fellow travelers, the mobilisation of market fundamentalist rhetoric to delegitimise the Labor Government’s NBN and a re-shaping of the NBN in line with the interests of Telstra. Previously facing the loss of a significant part of its business, Telstra, in receipt of billions of dollars of government funding for its “end of life” infrastructure, has emerged as the most significant beneficiary of the current NBN.

via The neoliberalist downfall of energy and the NBN

Blackwater founder seeks to privatize Afghan war despite mercs getting butt kicked in Yemen — RT Op-ed

Blackwater founder seeks to privatize Afghan war despite mercs getting butt kicked in Yemen

It raises the question of what the PMCs can do in Afghanistan if they are getting their butts kicked now in Yemen?

Unstated is the fact that despite the US military presence in Afghanistan, there also are PMCs working with them. One intelligence official told me that the ratio of PMCs to US soldiers in Afghanistan is better than five to one.

If that is the case, and PMCs already are fighting at some five times the strength of the US forces already in Afghanistan, what convincing information can Prince convey to Trump to get him to substitute his PMCs for the US military?

via Blackwater founder seeks to privatize Afghan war despite mercs getting butt kicked in Yemen — RT Op-ed

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Telstra and Optus’ week from hell was years in the making

Andy Penn announced plans to slash 8000 jobs on Wednesday. He was castigated by unions, admonished by politicians and shunned by investors as shares in the company he runs, Telstra, sank to within a whisker of record lows.

It’s hard to think it could have been much worse. Yet it’s debatable whether Penn even had the most difficult week in his industry.
Illustration: Joe Benke

Illustration: Joe Benke

Consider how the past few days have panned out for his counterpart at Optus, Allen Lew.

Optus was forced into a humiliating surrender of its World Cup streaming coverage, a key pillar of Lew’s overarching strategy. After failing to resolve ongoing technical problems with its broadcast, the No.2 carrier relinquished exclusivity over the prestigious tournament, at least for the group stages, to SBS.

via Telstra and Optus’ week from hell was years in the making

Corporation For Public Broadcasting: Reported Trump Privatization Plan Would Be “Devastating” To Public Media

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is pushing back on reported efforts by the Trump administration to privatize it, saying the proposal would have a “devastating effect” and that “the entire public media service would be severely debilitated.”CPB is a private nonprofit corporation that receives almost all of its funding f

Source: Corporation For Public Broadcasting: Reported Trump Privatization Plan Would Be “Devastating” To Public Media

Privatising prisons ensures increased reasons to incarcerate victimising the poor for profit. Cutting costs and enslaving labour.

St. Louis Suburbs Ferguson and Jennings Sued Over ‘Debtors Prisons’ Criminalizing Poverty

By Alice Speri

February 10, 2015 | 10:53 am

Two class action lawsuits filed on behalf of residents of St. Louis County on Sunday accuse the cities of Ferguson and neighboring Jennings of profiting off of poverty by running the modern-day equivalent of “debtors prisons.”

Eleven county residents sued the City of Ferguson and nine sued the City of Jennings, each lawsuit seeking class status on behalf of all persons jailed for non-payment of debt and fees from traffic violations and minor offenses. The plaintiffs claimed that they were held in jail indefinitely, denied court hearings, and not informed of their right to a lawyer or provided one while detained.

Both lawsuits were filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri by the ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit organization serving the homeless and working poor, professors at St. Louis University Legal Clinic, and the DC-based group Equal Justice Under Law.

Debtors prisons are taking the US back to the 19th century. Read more here.

“The City’s modern debtors’ prison scheme has been increasingly profitable… earning it millions of dollars over the past several years,” the lawsuits claim about Ferguson and Jennings. “It has also devastated the City’s poor, trapping them for years in a cycle of increased fees, debts, extortion, and cruel jailings.”

“The families of indigent people borrow money to buy their loved ones out of jail at rates arbitrarily set by jail officials, only for them later to owe more money to the City… from increased fees and surcharges,” the complaints add.

The filings allege that the cities kept debtors in “squalid” and “inhumane” conditions, and that residents whose only crime is the inability to pay a debt owed to the city are held “in overcrowded cells; they are denied toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap; they are subjected to the stench of excrement and refuse in their congested cells; they are surrounded by walls smeared with mucus, blood and feces; they are kept in the same clothes for days and weeks without access to laundry or clean undergarments.”

Adding insult to injury, the plaintiffs claim that guards at both jails “routinely laugh at the inmates and humiliate them with discriminatory and degrading epithets about their poverty and their physical appearance,” and that at the Jennings court “courtroom staff often walks down the hallway spraying Fabreze [sic] because the stench emanating from the inmates is unbearable.”

The strange case of Darren Wilson’s mysterious disappearing duty belt. Read more here.

The Ferguson government informed VICE News that the city does not discuss lawsuits that are pending in litigation. Jennings officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

“We believe this lawsuit is disturbing because it contains allegations that are not based on objective facts,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said in a statement. “It is our hope that the suit will be handled according to the rule of law and the rules of procedure in the federal courts, and not through the media.”

Critics of the situation in and around Ferguson point to the impact on the community of what some refer to as “poverty violations” — citations that effectively criminalize poverty while providing municipalities with a considerable source of revenue. In 2013, Ferguson derived 14 percent of its revenues from fines and asset confiscation, amounting to $2.6 million. The city of 21,000 has been hard hit economically — a quarter of its citizens are under the poverty level, and 49 percent of its homes have underwater mortgages. Half of the houses in Jennings are also worth less than their owners owe on them.

Speaking to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Knowles denied that profit motivated the traffic stops and cycles of fines.

“Absolutely not. As far as the application of fines, the setting of bails, etcetera, that’s not something determined in conjunction with city budget demands,” he said.

The Ferguson jail is closed for renovation.

“I know that we just underwent a massive renovation of the police department, including the jail facilities,” Knowles said. “I can tell you the city has spent a lot of time and money investing in those facilities and when they reopen… they will be top of the line.”

In the aftermath of the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, local residents denounced widespread harassment and profiling by police — including frequent traffic stops and heavy penalties for minor violations.

‘This is similar to the way Jesus was treated’: Letters to Missouri governor shed light on racial tensions in Ferguson aftermath. Read more here.

As people’s frustration at police erupted in the streets, the ArchCity Defenders published a scathing report, accusing St. Louis County — an intricate maze of some 90 municipalities — of heavily subsidizing city budgets by fining mostly poor and black residents.

“Although these practices are not new, many in the region just recently became aware of the ways in which municipal courts make people poor and keep them poor, especially in communities of color,” said Thomas Harvey, the group’s executive director. “These new lawsuits shine a light on the unlawful practices in these courts and the conditions the poor face when they are arrested and jailed for failing to pay fines because they do not have the means to pay them.

“Because they generate so much revenue, many towns in our region attempt to squeeze every dollar possible out of defendants and their families by jailing citizens who are not criminals, and who are not a threat to society,” he added.

Ferguson’s traffic revenue increased 44 percent since 2011. When residents fail to show up in court to pay, the municipalities issue arrest warrants — at a pace of 3.6 per household in Ferguson and 2.1 in Jennings, according to the lawsuits.

“When cities operate their police departments and municipal courts for profit, they ignore constitutional protections for defendants and jail them in squalid conditions in the hope those defendants will beg relatives and friends to pay their fines to obtain their release,” said Brendan Roediger, one of the St. Louis University Legal Clinic lawyers who filed the complaints. “These suits are another step in making the public aware of the abuses which result from for-profit policing and illegal practices in many municipal courts.

Herbert Nelson Jr., a Ferguson resident suing the city, told the New York Times that he was repeatedly jailed for failing to pay traffic tickets and court fines that kept piling up because he couldn’t afford to pay them off.

“I’ve been trying to imagine a way out of this for years,” he said. “Something has to happen where you separate minor cases from serious cases. You can’t keep treating normal people with traffic tickets like felons.”

His sister Allison was swept up in the same cycle, getting arrest warrants for failing to pay fines, continuing to drive to work in order to be able to pay those fines, and being stopped, jailed, and fined over and over again.

“You drive to work so you can pay the fines, but then you get pulled over, so you owe even more,” Allison, who makes $7.75 an hour, told the Times. “Anytime I go outside, I fear that I’ll be stopped by the police.”

) KEILEE FANT, ROELIF CARTER, ) ALLISON NELSON, HERBERT )  NELSON JR., ALFRED MORRIS, ) ANTHONY KIMBLE, DONYALE ) THOMAS, SHAMEIKA MORRIS, ) DANIEL JENKINS, RONNIE TUCKER, ) TONYA DEBERRY, et al., ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) ) Case No. ________________ THE CITY OF FERGUSON ) ) (Jury Trial Demanded) Defendant. )  ___________________________________ )
1.The Plaintiffs in this case are each impoverished people who were jailed by the Cityof Ferguson because they were unable to pay a debt owed to the City from traffic tickets or other minor offenses. In each case, the City imprisoned a human being solely because the person could not afford to make a monetary payment. Although the Plaintiffs pleaded that they were unable to  pay due to their poverty, each was held in jail indefinitely and none was afforded a lawyer or the inquiry into their ability to pay that the United States Constitution requires. Instead, they were threatened, abused, and left to languish in confinement at the mercy of local officials until their frightened family members could produce enough cash to buy their freedom or until City jail officials decided, days or weeks later, to let them out for free.
Case: 4:15-cv-00253 Doc. #: 1 Filed: 02/08/15 Page: 1 of 55 PageID #: 1