Taking public services back into public hands: reverse privatisation reforms in Australia
Privatisation is widely unpopular in the community and has led to reverse privatisation reforms despite the ongoing hegemony of neoliberalism. The existing literature, however, has limitations as it has primarily focused on two broad groups of causes: pragmatic reasons and political processes, explaining the extent of reverse privatisation reforms rather than understanding its underlying processes. The literature has also focused on remunicipalisation in North America and Europe with limited research on Australia despite it being an early adopter of privatisation.
This study will closely examine Port Macquarie Base Hospital and Mildura Base Hospital, two similar Australian case studies, to understand the processes of reverse privatisation reforms. Australia has been selected because of limited existing literature and its economic history of shifts between public and private control. The case studies were chosen from the Global Database of De-privatised Public Services. Methodologically, the study draws on Bart Voorn’s temporal framework that categorises the causes of reverse privatisation reforms as political causes, pragmatic causes, and structural factors, and broader policy literature such as historical institutionalism, power resource theory, and policy viability.
The study uses publicly available existing sources and semi-structured interviews, conducted with representatives of key actors, selected through theoretical sampling, to explore the role of actors, institutions, and ideas in privatisation reversals at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and Mildura Base Hospital.
I expect the findings of this research will assist in better understanding the process of reverse privatisation reform in Australia, providing insights and potential strategies for citizens and policy makers who wish to bring public services back into public hands.