Competition and human services don’t mix

According to today’s news, the government has estimated that for-profit vocational trainers are three times as expensive as TAFE. That’s no surprise to me, but it’s a striking contrast with the barely qualified enthusiasm (until very recently) of the Productivity Commission.

I’ve put in a submission to the PC inquiry into Competition in Human Services arguing that
(i) there’s no reason to expect that competition will deliver improved “consumer” (that is, student) choice or better outcomes
(ii) the failure of the PC to foresee, or recognise until much too late, the disastrous failure of for-profit vocational education means that its judgements about areas that might be opened to competition in future should not be relied on.

My submission is here

34 thoughts on “Competition and human services don’t mix

  1. @James Wimberley
    Your #23

    Ah well you probably also consumed Carnation Evaporated Milk then – you know, the one that came “from contented cows” – at least until Nestle flogged off the Carnation business. [According to Wikipedia, as an aside, “In 1911, Nestlé constructed the world’s largest condensed milk plant in Dennington, Victoria, Australia.” Fascinating. My father, a brickie, used to have condensed milk in his billy tea when he was working on site.]

    But come on, tell us the secret: of all the camemberts and bries made in France, how did you choose Le Rustique ? Did you actually investigate the range of choice available applying all the relevant principles and practices of data analysis (which professional cheese taster did the taste test ?), or did you just make a preemptive decision based on a single advertisement showing smiling cows ?

  2. @Ernestine Gross
    Your #21

    You’ve done it again, haven’t you.

    Ok, so I can see that any fungible ‘commodity’ must be measurable, and contrary to popular affectation, I can see that ‘love’ is a measurable commodity (it can be ‘measured’, and it can be added to and subtracted from), but is my annual checkup visit to my GP ‘measurable’ ? Is yhe path test that my GP sends me to ‘measurable’ ? Is a cheese a ‘measurable commodity’ (just so James Wimberley doesn’t feel left out) ?

  3. @John Turner

    “I refer to the National Disability Insurance Service (NDIS). This obsession with ‘public choice’ through market competition is justified by its proponents as being “empowering” but the reality is that what people with a disability need is consistency in terms of the people providing services or facilitating service provision.”

    I have a disability, and its actually good to have more choices I think. The various government services can have a lot of power over the lives of people with disabilities, and I think various approaches to reducing this power and giving people with disabilities more choice is good in the long, although I expect some problems in the change over. I think one of the most difficult things will be for people who have had a lot of time with the previous model getting used to the new model, and working out how to make it work for them.

  4. @GrueBleen

    On appropriate range of choices of camemberts. The then French President, General DeGaulle, is said to have exclaimed: ‘How can one govern a country that has about 450 different camemberts’!

  5. @GrueBleen

    Hey I don’t usually quibble and it’s not like you to get things wrong, but you seem to be confused about the difference between evaporated milk and condensed milk. Big difference you know.

    Way back in the late ’50’s or early ’60’s my uncle who was in the army and posted in Asia somewhere would bring us tubes of condensed milk from his army rations I think. Sucking on these tube of condensed milk was probably not good for our teeth.

    That uncle is now a raving right wing lunatic with guns buried in his back yard.

    And about choice; humans don’t all want the same level of choice. I hate making decisions especially waste of time decisions like which camembert is best. But some people really get off on sitting around waxing lyrical about cheeses. Takes all kinds and that’s the best thing about us humans. We are all different.

  6. @Julie Thomas
    Your #33

    the difference between evaporated milk and condensed milk. Big difference you know.

    Yep, I do know having consumed some amount of both in my younger years. Why would you think I didn’t ? Just because I mentioned an amusing aside about condensed – tucked behind brackets to separate it from the rest of the sentence – at the same time as mentioning evaporated ?

    We are all different.

    Yep, we are all unique in exactly the same way. Even the lactose intolerant can eat cheese.

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