Campaign saves Cessnock prison, but NSW privatisation drive goes on

With Cessnock jail off the privatisation list, union activists including prison guards (PSA), teachers (NSWTF), nurses, AMWU and NTEU are seeking to extend the campaign across the state.
“This was a great day for the Cessnock community—and a good result for all those in the community who do not believe that prisons should be run for profit by big corporations,” said PSA general secretary John Cahill.
Cahill says that the PSA will now target Labor MPs in the western Sydney electorates surrounding the Parklea prison—still up for sale by Corrective Services Minister John Robertson.
“The arguments against a private prison at Cessnock are the same as the arguments against a private prison at Parklea—the justice system should not be run for profit,” said PSA general secretary John Cahill.
On May 31, stalls were held in about 20 electorates across NSW targeting Labor MPs who still support the government privatisation push—of prisons, power services and generators, ferries, lotteries and rail services. The Labor heartland seats of right wing power brokers, Joseph Tripodi and Eddie Obeid, were among those targeted.
These are the same people who backed former treasurer Michel Costa’s 2008 attempt to privatise NSW power generators. Union opposition to this neo-liberal agenda saw both Premier Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa lose their government positions last year.
Current Premier Nathan Rees and other members of cabinet must ditch their privatisation plans once and for all. Polling shows that Labor faces a hiding in the next election.
Junking their Liberal-esque policies might be a start to turning that around.
Around 800 party and union members rallied outside a meeting of the party’s administrative committee to demand that the committee uphold the NSW party’s position against privatisation.
The Labor government is trying to get the committee to re-interpret the meaning of ALP policy which states “Labor opposes the private contract management of prisons”.
Rather than imposing cuts, the NSW government should be boosting government spending for public sector employment such as green power jobs as well as metro and light rail extension.

By John Morris


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