Occupy protests target Serco: A SERIES of protests have been held across Sydney, Melbourne and Perth against multi-national British services company Serco, which runs Australia’s immigration detention and other public facilities.
The demonstrations, which will include a protest in London later tonight (AEST), were held by the Occupy movement, which is concerned about the rise in privatisation of public services, and a lack of transparency and accountability.
Three separate protests were held in Sydney today, including one outside Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s office in Fairfield, Villawood Detention Centre, and the Sydney Ferry office in Circular Quay.
They coincided with a lunch-time demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD.
Occupy Perth attracted about 50 protesters during its lunch-time rally outside Serco’s head office, which called on the federal government to cancel all Serco immigration detention centre contracts, and the West Australian Government to cancel its $4.3 billion Serco contract for the new Fiona Stanley Hospital.
Protest organiser Alex Bainbridge said it was targeting Serco because it was “symbolic and symptomatic of the whole culture of privatisation”.
“In places like Britain – where Serco has a much larger presence in public hospitals – there is a long record of patient care being affected and the consistent attitude of cutting the bottom line at the cost of public services,” he said.
Mr Bainbridge said private firms such as Serco were not transparent, nor as accountable as government entities, and were more concerned with shareholder profits than responsible public service.
Serco made a pre-tax profit of Stg262.2 million ($391.9 million) on revenue of Stg4.64 billion ($6.94 billion) last financial year.
Its international services include everything from running public and private transport, to aviation, military and nuclear weapons contracts, detention centres, prisons and schools.
A spokeswoman from WA Health Minister Kim Hames’ office said many public health services were already run successfully by private organisations, including St John Ambulance, Silver Chain, radiotherapy services, and the Joondalup and Peel health campuses.
Serco was not immediately available for comment.