A car convoy of 40 cars, along with people on bikes, circled Parliament House several times on June 18 to protest the NSW government’s plans to privatise bus services.
Demonstrations were also held outside the electoral offices of Liberal MPs in the North Shore and Eastern Suburbs, the next areas slated for the bus sell-off. The protests were organised to coincide with a parliamentary debate on bus privatisation, triggered by a Keep Our Buses Public petition signed by 22,000 people.
The convoy was supported by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union Tram and Bus Division, the Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union NSW & ACT Branch, Australian Services Union NSW & ACT Branch and Unions NSW. It was coorganised by the May 1 Movement Sydney. Spokesperson Paul McAleer said the group “opposes privatisation for all the reasons the public understands, including the shameless distribution of wealth away from the community and into private profit”.
“We know that privatisation leads to poorer services across society and will always be opposed by those of us in the community who strive for publicly owned assets,” said McAleer, who is also the Maritime Union of Australia Sydney branch secretary.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the Greens back the community and union movements’ demands that “essential services be kept in public hands”. Greens MLC Abigail Boyd said: “We know that public buses deliver better services and that privatisation always ends up costing more and delivering less.”
National coordinator for the Australian Unemployed Workers Union Alex North said: “Private buses aren’t just bad for commuters, the community and unemployed workers, they’re bad for bus drivers as well. Accessibility to good public transport is essential in fighting inequality and creating jobs.”
May 1 Movement organiser Robert Car said: “Public transport belongs to the public. We will never surrender public assets to private enterprise who will bleed the community and public dry for profit.”
[For more information on the Keep Our Buses Public campaign visit www.ourtransport.org.au.]