4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News

4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News
4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News Led by John "Cueball" Mackenzie

24 March 2013

THE DOWNSIDE OF PRIVATISATION - OWNERS OF FORMER PUBLIC ASSETS REFUSE TO PLAY FAIR - BLUDGEON THE PUBLIC AND BULLY THEIR PARTNERS - AND GET AWAY WITH IT

In many locales around the world, privatisation of public assets has either never occurred, or has been done with protections for the public imposed as part of the private ownership.  Electrical systems across the United States are almost all privately owned.  A mix of public and private ownership exists in Canada.  Both countries have about the lowest electricity pricing in the world, with pricing ranging from .063c kWh to about .094c kWh.  Australian electricity runs from .22c to .38c kWh.  A major drag on our economy not likely to be solved soon.

In most places, the privatisation is accompanied by tight consumer-driven regulatory environments so that the public doesn't get gouged.  Witness the California Public Utilities Commission, that regulates rates, access charges, and even the return on investment allowed to these privatised utilities.  This is true across the US and Canada.  And not just electricity but gas, water, telephone, internet, solar, wind power, transport, and rail - virtually every public "monopolistic" type business that has at its heart public service.  None of these private businesses is allowed to gouge, but all are allowed to make a fair profit.  

What do we do in Australia?  We sell off our public assets with virtually NO controls on the purchasers, which then allows them to gouge at will.  Profits of ten times that of regulated utilities are common in this unregulated Australia.  

Witness the Cairns Airport - a Port Authority built facility, planned on the courageousness of many Cairns residents, and the now largest economic driver in the Cairns region.  In late 2008 the ALP government sold the airport off without any consultation with the residents of Cairns, all to satisfy the demands for long-term hospital fixes.  The new owners, Cairns Airport Pty. Ltd., (CAPL) is part of a larger consortium that owns other airports in the region.  All dedicated to one thing - profit for their investors.  Apparently at any cost.



THIS IS THE WELCOMING TROPICAL AIRPORT AT
KONA, HAWAII.  KONA HAS PASSENGER NUMBERS
ABOUT EQUAL TO CAIRNS YEARLY
CAPL took over an airport desperately needing increased investment to operate.  We've seen a new domestic terminal, first instigated under the previous owners, completed and seen as a passenger-unfriendly albatross.  


GATE TUNNELS - NO, YOU CAN'T HEAR ANY
OF THE ANNOUNCEMENTS HERE, EITHER
Looking more like a discount warehouse than a tropical tourist destination, the terminal jams passengers in tunnels and up long un-airconditioned ramps, unintelligible announcements, shops closed during peak travel hours, and some of the most expensive airport internet access in the world.  Airlines confirm that turn-around times at the Cairns Airport are among the slowest in the region, all caused by bad design and inefficient operations but they say CAPL management isn't interested in efficient operations by the airlines.  And the inefficient operations have delayed start of service to Singapore by SQ-owned "Scoot", who believe turnaround times at Cairns will be too long. 

Profit for the investors is number one.

Cairns Airport until recently had some of the highest car rental and car park charges in Australia.  These charges, direct profit for CAPL with little work or investment, brings howls of complaint whenever they are mentioned.  And the public laughs when the airport's "pick up and park free" campaign is mentioned - one would have to run at top speed from car to baggage area and back to the car to qualify for the free (10 minute) parking.  Then you're up for $4.50.  Screw you, Cairns.

Profit for the investors is number one.

USUALLY DESERTED TAXI AND BUS DRIVER PARKING WITH
FREE AMENITY BUILDING THEY DEMANDED ALONG WITH BLOCKING
CITY BUSES FROM PICKING UP PASSENGERS AT THE AIRPORT - SWEET!

And unlike most airports around the world, CAPL refuses to establish a "cell phone lot", where drivers can await their friends and relatives call for pickup.  A giant waiting area for taxis and buses was built that could easily accommodate such a use.  And seeing that drivers were parking along the airport access road awaiting such calls, dozens of giant "NO STANDING" signs were erected, with violators issued tickets by the AFP.  

Profit for investors is number one.


But recently some of the gouging began to see a breach.  Apex Rental Car, a player at other Australian airports, grabbed a Sheridan Street site and is now providing discounted car rentals to our visitors, instead of just the major foreign-owned firms.  Good for Apex! - the free market at work.  And a couple other Sheridan-street properties have seen cagey entrepreneurs move in with discounted car parking and free shuttles to the airport.  While CAPL has attacked back in typical monopolistic ways, slashing some parking rates while putting up others, this healthy dose of competition is how the system is supposed to work.  

Until recently.


THEY'RE NOT MUCH AT SPELLING, BUT
THEY PROVIDE MUCH NEEDED
DISCOUNT PARKING
CAPL has recently begun meetings with certain Cairns Non-Regional Councillors in an attempt to eject the Apex Car Rental business along with the discount car parking sites, including the popular Betta Car Park company.  Insiders have confirmed that CNC staff have been instructed by two councillors to look for "development problems, zoning issues, and anything else" that can be used to force these businesses back unto airport property (and airport-priced leases), or close them down.  We understand the same presentation has been made to local members of the Queensland Parliament, demanding that their monopolistic rights as airport owners be protected.

Profit for investors is number one.

Hence the reluctance of the Australian public to tolerate more "privatisation", as it always seems to arrive without the necessary regulation.  It cost no more money to generate electric from oil, coal, or natural gas in Australia then it does in Calgary Alberta, or Sacramento, California.  Those states have, via regulation, demanded the utilities not gouge the public and price increases asked for by the utilities are subjected to a rigorous process including public hearings.  And the financials of all these privatised entities are open to the regulators.  

However the CAPL has in every way decided that inconvenience to the public, gouging money from the public, and mistreating the passengers and airlines users is their road to higher profits - because Profits for Investors is Number One!

If the Joh Bjelke Newman government really wants to privatise more public operations (which we philosophically support for non-health related business), they've got to accompany the proposals with stiff, transparent, and public-run regulation over those investors.  Anyone wanting to buy Ergon must roll back pricing to a world-market level:  let's say the same as the .08c kWh they're paying new solar installations.
  

Without public regulation, we're just doomed to have more Cairns Airport-type operators, fucking the public at every turn and looking out only for themselves.  Not a good look for such a vital service.


30 comments:

TAS said...

Cairns Airport. What could have been a brilliant tropical showcase for the region has turned out to be the most sterile uninviting passenger-unfriendly shocker imaginable. What a wasted opportunity. As for functionality, example: anyone seeking the domestic pick-up/drop-off points and not familiar with the airports convoluted road system will first find themselves in a dead-end road servicing the fuel farm and freight sheds only. This will only become apparent after a good ten minutes of driving around, trying in vain to get to the terminal frontage you can clearly see just a hundred metres away. Then, after back-tracking all the way to the main road, a secret little side road may then reveal itself as the actual entrance. But even then, it tries to $uck you into the car-park boom gate$ (two right-hand lane$) if you don't proceed on the far left (one lane only). As for the slow aircraft turn-a-round; nothing accidental about that. The whole airport is designed as a captive-market shopping complex with the most expensive food, beverages, books and trinkets in town, and every cash register in every business downloading its turnover to CAPL who then take a huge percentage. Add car-parking, taxi levy, etc etc, and you'll understand why CAPL have little incentive in assisting airlines to get their customers embarking and disembarking in a timely manner.

CBD Warrior said...

I can vouch for at least part of this story. I am aware that CAPL has been looking to "buy up" the commercial land adjacent to Sheridan and Airport Road, with the intentions of putting all these small businesses off their land. It's correct that we have no regulatory bodies to control these public entities - Sydney airport is a case in point with everyone getting gouged.

Anonymous said...

I still get lost at the bloody place, despite many visits. On my last trip I decided to leave the car at the airport for 3 nights, as it was cheaper and more convenient than 2 taxi rides. Once inside the place turned out to be full and I had to park on a traffic island. Others, who were in more of a rush than me, simply left their cars on the side of the road. What a shambles. And it is truly god awful sterile and uninviting. Have a look at the beautiful tropical airports of Okinawa and even the little one at Koh Samui. Who designs these horrible places ? Some imbecile has designed some other monstrosity for Trinity Beach, enthusiastically endorsed by cueball and the local second hand car dealer, sorry councillor, what's his name. Not a trace of old world charm or tropical ambience. Why do they think people come up here ? To see more tinted glass and concrete ? I did use a nearby long term parking place once and their service was excellent. They got shafted by the previous government as they were promised the lake street link to the airport, which never eventuated. Witness the massive queues every morning at the airport turn-off. The indecisive do-nothing Mayor mumbled something about it being too expensive and king is to busy with self-promotion to care.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that an illegal restriction of trade? And wouldn't our councillors be assisting ratepayers rather than big business when it comes to such matters? And pigs will fly!

ruby said...

May God help us all once the LNP achieve their dream and privatise the State hospitals and all health services. We will end up having to mortgage our homes for cancer treatment, sell off our furniture and personal effects to pay for our pharmaceutical drugs and medicines all of which will be anufactured in China and probably consisting of dried dogs turds, a few grams of plain dirt, dried spittle, piss and whatever (no quality assurance testing in China of course). Then there are the Xrays which will all be outsourced to India, then broken down to a series of various tendering, so that in the end, our Xrays will be read by a barely educated office cleaning woman with one eye who has a series of templates to simply tick off. So that your stage two cancer will be ticked off on her template as "a benign cyst". That'll cost you $5,000.00, 40c of which will go to the cleaning woman. The fact that you will die after all of that, won't matter. As long as they have got all your money, that's the main thing. Yeah, you can see why the LNP are ecstatic over this.

TAS said...

Ruby, it was Gough Whitlam who established universal health care; Medibank? Then along came Malcolm Fraser, and it was effectively scrapped (the name remains today only as a government-owned private insurer).
As it does, the pendulum swung and Malcolm was ousted by Hawk, and one of the first things established was a Medicare. It's been with us ever since and whoa-betide any government who tried to dismantle it today. Newman/LNP will tamper with our health system at their peril. Such provocative actions will simply hasten the return of the ALP, because when it comes to it, even the dumbest of voting idiots puts a public health system before a Triple-A rating.

Vi L. Schumm said...

Thanks for this timely post HBW.
A good book on this issue is 'Reinventing Government'by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler (Plume Book), published in 1992. The authors advocate privatisation of certain public utilities, under stringent conditions and with maximum competition. They do NOT advocate the creation of unregulated private monopolies of the type we have with Australian airports.

Anonymous said...


International airport has no access to the gates unless you walk through a duty free store. Then boring awful space, looks unfinished or missing something. Sydney similar though a few steps in they offer an exit.

ruby said...

TAS, Tony Abbpott has promised to cancel Medicare. Once Newman privatises the hospitals, free medical care or bulk billing will be a thing of the past. All gone.

TAS said...

Ruby, I haven't seen anything anywhere to indicate Abbott is dismantling Medicare. I think he would be on track to lose the unlosable election if he did so. And although we know little of what he plans, these are going to be the BIG questions he must answer before the election (Labour might be on the nose, but who would vote for the great unknown).
But paste this link, and you'll see what his Tory mates in UK are doing. This will surely be on his agenda: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/video/2013/mar/22/jobcentre-sanctions-money-stopped-video

Anonymous said...

Just another quick reminder of the fantastic achievements in journalism made by this individual in his prime position at the Townsville (out)Post before he was lovingly voted in by the hillbillies of Cairns.
Gavin King - a man of words:
http://youtu.be/HXkzQvUwmGc

Anonymous said...

As a taxi driver here in Cairns and a long time resident, I have seen our rates payers and our tax payers meaning the people who put Cairns on the map oringinally, I m talking 2 generations of Far north QLDers. Ever so slowly fucked over by successive state govts local councils and the Federal Mafia Itself. To make way for Big Business Big Lies Big Promises and Big Identity Theft. The fist thing that gets stolen when you are raped by Law Enforcement and Govt is your Identity, Your Rights disappear back into the CROWD Pleasing MOB RULES where justice is seen to be done By Proxy and a Court Of Lies . You become as they in communism The Useful Idoit. Bear that in mind next time you pay your speeding ticket thinking to yourself I deserved that. And so did CAIRNS. I might have to get my old mate Phone Jacker to Call into the John Macfrenzy Show to order Pizza to see if John can Upsell Him. In the middle of the next Cyclone.

ruby said...

TAS, Abbott has mentioned it in a spiel in the House of Reps. over a year ago. It should be in Hansard...UNLESS he went in later and altered the record. I believe pollies can do this. However he most definitely stated axeing Medicare as a priority.

Anonymous said...

Having returned from japan a few weeks ago the fire alarm siren went off in the international terminal as we were waiting to pick up our luggage, after about 5 minutes of the siren an emergency call was made that no one could understand so we all stood there not knowing where to go ,total stuff up and thank god it was only a false alarm maybe needs to be looked at ASAP

Anonymous said...

I must be losing my memory. I recall that it was the Blight government what privatised the Airport, and Labor friend and appointment Clive Skarrot what oversaw the shockingly inept (even for Labor) design for the new domestic terminal.

But now "Ruby" tells me its all an example of LNP deceit. How peculiar.

Anonymous said...

What qualities do you need to be a "local Cairns taxi-driver"?? I hope that innocent travellers to our pretty city are not assailed by this idiot.

Anonymous said...

Re the last photo in this article -why didn't G King add -"I must do something about this, perhaps I could talk to my friend Macca and suggest he lobbies for a local bus service to assist arriving visitors"? too hard I guess.

Anonymous said...

For comparison, contrast the experience of arriving in Townsville airport. You walk from the aerobridge into an airconditioned and carpeted area and descend down an escalator to the baggage carousels.
In Cairns you are greeted by non airconditioned, sterile concrete ramps and a long hot walk into the terminal where you have to battle through retail outlets to find your bag.
It really provides a stark comparison of the welcome received by visitors to each of the two cities.

ruby said...

Anonymous 09.38, read my comments. At no time did I say it was the LNP government which privatised the airport. Cairns Airport has been privatised for some years. Newman was only elected last year. So stop telling lies or put your specs on when reading comments.

Anonymous said...

Profit for the investors is always the main objective of privatisation. Oh, but wait - what about the obscene salaries of the CEOs?

jim-bob snr said...

All I can say is God help us when Newman privatises electricity and our hospitals. For many of us, our standard of living will experience a very sharp decline. Very sharp. Frankly, it depresses me too much to talk about it.

Anonymous said...

Jim-bob snr... quick call beyond blue they care. ha ha

shanghai said...

westpac super holders rejoice your getting 10% return what we really need is 1 hundred meters of road between lake st and airport drive dont worry about the mangrove we need more efficent access to the airport cns airport the jewel of fnq mud whelks and mud skippers and those fiddler crabs move

Anonymous said...

WTF Shanghai did you say, westpac super holders have crabs and mudskippers are rejoiceing becauce they walk 100 meters to the airport to get 10% off mud that whelks on the airport drive.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the 'zero tolerance easter weekend' the police are spruiking. What is the tolerance when it isn't zero? which is presumably when one of these 'blitzes' isn't on.

Have people been getting away with crimes because it wasn't a public holiday? Or do the police behave badly on holiday weekends and therefore need to have their discretion taken away?

Anonymous said...

Once again Shanghai your stalker makes less sense than you.

Anonymous said...

Looks like it's all go for the gazillion dollar makeover and yet another shopping precinct on the Stratford side of the airport as the 'make a quick buck' government gives it the green light. If only we had half a million people living here!

DAZADUKE said...

I love shanghai stalker. Keep up the good work as I need a good laugh.

shanghai said...

to the neville no body above westpac super owns a chunk of the airport the bit about the crabs and molluscs is a dig at the greenies the idea of a road is to take pressure off sheridan st im being sarcastic i like shanghai stalker too his my bitch

Anonymous said...

WTF Shanghai did you say.You want me to be your Bitch but you have crabs,and you dig greenies and westpac owns the airport.