Public Good calls on New Zealand’s political parties to consider the development of a Public Service Users Bill to provide for improved and more democratic management of New Zealand’s public sector. The recent referendum on asset sales demonstrated that fully two thirds of New Zealanders believe that the energy companies and our national airline should be in public hands. Yesterday a Public Service Users Bill was introduced into the UK parliament. This followed on from research showing that a large UK majority strongly support public ownership and operation of public assets and services.
The UK Bill’s intent is to reflect this level of support and to make public ownership the default normal. NZ could do the same. The Bill mandates full consideration of public opinion before any service is privatised or outsourced, prioritises public sector organisations and social enterprises in the bidding process for any tendered work, and mandates an in-house bid if any service is put out to tender. It would also ensure that private companies running public services are subject to the same information transparency provisions as the public sector and imposes a right of recall when private sector companies fail to perform.
Public control of public services makes them more responsive. Without the need to seek profits the focus is on the service, there is democratic control and quality can improve. In contrast services that are contracted are limited to what is in the contract. By taking public opinion into account when considering outsourcing or privatisation, politicians would ensure that New Zealand citizens cannot be alienated from the resources that their taxes have built and from the services that it is their expectation should be provided without the overhead of private gain.
UK Campaign Group We Own It developed the Public Service Users Bill and the Bill has cross party support of MPs from Labour, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist party which, makes it possible that the Bill will progress even in the current session of Parliament. The Bill was introduced into the UK Parliament yesterday by Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton and Hove.
• We Own It Public Service Users Bill presented to Parliament.
• Guardian Article on the presentation of the Bill to Parliament by Green MP Caroline Lucas
• NZ campaign Group Public Good
• Better in Public Hands (research report)