A key element of new public management in many jurisdictions has been the substitution of public by private sector ownership, and the replacement of public delivery and funding of services by private mechanisms. Despite these substitutions, there remains little credible evidence that ownership per se is a factor in organisational performance. Yet, many jurisdictions such as Australia have placed great faith in privatisation as a means of securing greater efficiencies in the provision of public services. This article suggests that rather than ask the question of whether or not organisations should be publicly or privately owned, a more important question needs to be answered: what makes organisations better able to provide for public outcomes? In answering this question, governments are better able to make decisions about what public services need to be provided and how their public services are best delivered. The article considers the Australian case of privatisation and notes that a focus on privatisation has often blinded the Australian government to the importance of maintaining ‘publicness’ or the important public outcomes of services they provide or fund.