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The municipalisation of gas and tram companies in Hobart 1854-1914


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Petrow, S 2007 , 'The municipalisation of gas and tram companies in Hobart 1854-1914', in C Miller and M Roche (eds.), Past matters: heritage and planning history-case studies from the Pacific Rim , Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle UK, pp. 58-80.

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For the last two decades, Australian politics has been debating the nature and role of the state. Anti-statist ideas from the USA and Britain have greatly influenced both sides of politics. No longer has the state been seen primarily as a paternalistic agency used to mitigate 'the harsh consequences of economic competition and economic inequality' (Thompson 1998, 114). The state has tended to be regarded as 'parasitic and as antagonistic to the health of the private sector'. While those claims did not pass uncontested, the dominant trend was towards privatisation. Around the world between 1989 and 1999 some 800 direct sales of government enterprises and assets to foreign companies and investors raised $A300 billion for governments. In Australia the size of the state was reduced and privatisation of government business enterprises and instrumentalities went on apace in the 1990s. Zealous, free market, economic rationalist advisers urged the Keating Labor Cabinet to 'cleanse the economy of government'. In Victoria, the Kennett Liberal Government sold $A24 billion in government assets, including
the State Electricity Commission (Woodward 1999, 150). We should add contracting out government services to private companies. While doctrinaire considerations have played their part, the economists, public servants and politicians who championed privatization were firmly convinced that it would bring substantial benefits to the public in the form of better services and lower prices. As critics of privatization had predicted, in practice those benefits have accrued less to the public than to business interests associated with conservative governments.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Petrow, S
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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Copyright © 2007 by Caroline Miller and Michael Roche and Stefan Petrow

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