Recently the current N.S.W. transport minister known only as Andrew Constance, in a move that seemed as though the government was throwing all of its toys out of the pram in order to teach us all a lesson (or something) because it decided that juvenile knee-jerk reactions were far better than actually openly addressing issues, decided to announce that, after the amount of complaints received last year from users of the bus network in the inner west, the inner west bus routes were going to be privatised, although the fares and routes were still going to be controlled by the government.
In response, it was shown that private buses received more complains in the last year than state-operated buses.
From there, a number of bus drivers went on a twenty-four hour strike despite it being deemed illegal by the Industrial Relations Commission.
It caused a lot of issues, but it’s hard to blame them.
Despite assurances of contract extensions and that more jobs would be created due to Sydney’s expansion, they went on strike because their holding their jobs was thrown into limbo as private bus services have no obligation to keep staff on when the contract switches over.
It may not have been a good knee-jerk reaction to a knee-jerk reaction, but I find it difficult to condemn the strike.
Andrew Constance had no difficulty condemning the reaction, although in reading how Andrew Constance talks, it would seem that he has no difficulty condemning any action that he does not deem as appropriate.
Hew could have opened dialogue before the strike became a thing and begun speaking with transparency.
However, he did not and instead used a a tactic that was far too common: he put all the blame on the unions and the Labor party.
Not only did he do this, but he decided that it would be best to be as unprofessional in his language as possible and spout what would appear to be guilt trips.
Now I’m not sure what privatizing the bus routes will bring. There’s no guarantee that it will make the services better. It might be a good action, but at the moment all it does is make the government look like they aren’t interested in looking at what is causing the issues and working to rectify them. If the privatisation goes ahead and the private bus companies end up doing a much better job, it makes the transport minister, and by extension the government, look incompetent in their ability to manage public assets.
A strike may not have been the best way to go about things, but to reveal that you may be unfit for your position in the state government, both in speech and action is far worse.
It does not endear people to someone who may be trying to get them passed off as one of the people. All it does is garner disrespect.
Some people may look at this and say that the people of the inner west are privileged and that’s fine. They’re allowed to think whatever they want to think, despite it not being about privilege at all. It’s about the state government mismanaging public assets and then deciding to have them privatised, which is not what people have asked for because people don’t want to see what is rightfully theirs sold.
I don’t think that the government remembers that they are the employees of all citizens; even those that don’t vote for them. I think that citizens forget this as well.
It is the governments responsibility to be as transparent as possible with its plans and follow the will of the people. People were passing on feedback in their complaints. They weren’t asking for bus services to be privatised. What the state government has announced could be seen as a betrayal of the trust put into them.
I’ve had a colleague of mine suggest that this could lead to the reduction of public transport services if they are revealed as being non-profitable. It seems ridiculous, but considering the track record of recent governments of N.S.W, it’s something that may need to be considered.
The privatisation could end up being beneficial. It may not be.
Ultimately, the complaints should be addressed and attempts to rectify them should be made apparent. The most likely issue is buses running late and that will most likely have to do with traffic congestion, which can be reduced if people are provided incentive to use public transport, instead of having incentive taken away, leading to those in the outer west (as well as some in other areas) working out that it is cheaper for them to have a private motorised vehicle on the road than it is to use public transport.
Furthermore to this, the government should always be under scrutiny, regardless of how much you support whichever party is governing. They are the employees of the people. The less that criticism and dissatisfaction is displayed and fed through to them, the less that they will be willingly transparent and representative of the citizens over which they govern.
Edit: I need to note that some of the services in the south of Sydney are going to be privatised as well, which is just as much, if not more of a disappointment, than the inner west services being privatised.