Bushfire safety to be undermined by electricity privatisation

Thursday 23 Oct 2014

Bushfire safety in the Perth hills and the State’s South West will be undermined when the Barnett Government privatises Western Australia’s electricity assets.

Treasurer Mike Nahan has indicated that the State Government will look to sell electricity assets to reduce State debt, and has been backed by Synergy in its submission to the State Government’s Electricity Market Review.

Australian Services Union (ASU) WA Branch Secretary Wayne Wood said privatisation would see the quality of service suffer.

“Privatisation fails because private companies have to make a profit, leaving less money for services,” he said.

“In electricity, this means sending administration functions offshore, and cutbacks to network maintenance.

“If polls and wires are sold to the private sector, they will only invest in the network when it is profitable for them to do so. This could leave many parts of the network to decay, with disastrous consequences during bushfire season.

“We understand the Barnett Government has created a debt problem for itself, but selling off essential services like electricity is not the solution. This is particularly the case, given Mr Barnett promised he would not privatise electricity assets during the last state election campaign.”

The ASU has joined forces with the Electrical Trades Union in a major public campaign to fight the planned privatisation of Western Australia’s electricity system.

“In the weeks ahead, we will launch a campaign website and advertising to inform the WA community about the electricity price increases and service quality problems that will be an inevitable consequence of privatisation in electricity,” Mr Wood said.

“We will encourage the WA community to use the power they possess at the ballot box to stop the Barnett Government’s privatisation plans.”