While public-private partnerships (PPPs) have lately come to be seen as an attractive vehicle to deliver public services, in academic circles, opinions remain divided about their impacts and performance. While the proponents strongly justify PPPs by citing a range of benefits, including enhanced efficiency, cost savings, risk transfer, and value for money, the critics tend to dismiss such assertions and label PPPs as risky and wasteful ventures that eventually lead to much higher costs. Thus, PPPs have been the source of an intense debate and controversy. This article is a contribution to this debate. Based on a review of two leading PPP projects in Australia, it argues that although PPPs may help achieve some short-term objectives, their overall performance falls short of expectations and declared objectives. The article shows that the benefits of PPPs are often exaggerated, that the projected risk transfer is incomplete or unrealistic given the long term nature of projects, and that the contract documents governing the relationships between parties are unable to capture all risks and uncertainties. Finally, it argues that there is a need to augment capacity and skills on both sides, and to undertake a far more careful and considered assessment of the costs, benefits and risks of PPPs.