SYDNEY, Australia – As the final votes are tallied in Australia’s general election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears on track to lose his majority – owing largely to his plan to privatize health care, says the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
Turnbull is leader of the right-wing Liberal Party of Australia. In February, he established a 20-person task force to oversee a radical plan to privatize health care. The leader of the opposition Labor Party, Bill Shorten, made the election a referendum on the future of public health care. Turnbull dismissed the move as a “scare tactic.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas is in Australia to meet with members of the Health Services Union New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory. The OPSEU president believes the election is a cautionary tale for Ontarians – and the Ontario Liberal Party.
HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes, Labor Party House Whip Chris Hayes and OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
“While all the results aren’t in yet, Australians have sent a stinging rebuke to Malcom Turnbull and his right-wing agenda to make public health care a profit-generating private enterprise,” said Thomas. “Australians, like Ontarians, put an extremely high value on the quality and accessibility of their public health care.
“When Australians found out that the government was planning to hand health care over to the private sector, they turned an early-election cakewalk for Turnbull into the longest and hardest‑fought electoral struggle in almost 50 years.”
The Ontario Liberal Party has been aggressively pursuing a similar agenda of privatization across government, particularly in health care, Thomas said. Building hospitals through public-private partnerships has drained billions from frontline health care services, he said.
“This election has mobilized Australians to defend public health care,” said Thomas. “They’re telling their leaders, ‘you can’t privatize what belongs to all of us. We own it.’
“I predict that’s the same message Ontarians will be delivering to politicians here in 2018.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931