Clayton Barr brings Service NSW privatisation protest to Bega

A state MP will protest outside Bega’s Service NSW centre on Wednesday against an amendment he says will lead to the privatisation of the government service. 

Shadow minister for Finance, Services and Property Clayton Barr alleges amendments to the Services NSW Act sees sensitive information at the whim of for profit companies. Fairfax file image

Shadow minister for Finance, Services and Property Clayton Barr alleges amendments to the Services NSW Act sees sensitive information at the whim of for profit companies. Fairfax file image

Shadow minister for Finance, Services and Property Clayton Barr is concerned about changes to the Service NSW Act that will allow the government to outsource work to seven private companies.

He said there is a risk that customers’ sensitive information could be transferred into the hands of companies that could use it for their own financial advantage. 

“I don’t want to see a community service being run like a for profit business,” Mr Barr said. 

The companies listed in the amendment primarily offer services such as analytics, customer service, IT systems, contact centres and marketing. 

Currently Service NSW outsources its after hours telephone service to Datacom Australia, an arrangement that has been in place since 2013. 

A spokesperson for Service NSW said accusations that they were working towards privatising their service were “false and misleading”.

Service NSW explained the change in regulation and listing of the seven companies was to create a “panel of outsourcers” as a requirement of a tender process.

Mr Barr believes the amendment put through by his elected counterpart, Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello, doesn’t recognise the value of data. 

“The problem with outsourcing customer service is that you lose ownership of that valuable data,” he said. 

“It’s valuable for companies that may want to sell that information on or specifically target a market, but it’s also really valuable information for a government to get a snapshot of their community.”

Mr Barr said data should be treated as a commodity, and governments should understand the value of information before it is too late. 

Service NSW insisted it takes the privacy and management of personal information seriously, and its external providers are contractually obliged to stick to privacy and information security standards.

Mr Barr said he is trying to raise awareness of the amendment, which was not accompanied by a public announcement at the time it was passed.  He has visited eight Service NSW centres in the northern part of the state, and now travelling to nine centres in the south to protest the decision.