New Grylls spending spree to be funded by Western Power privatisation

Wednesday 10 Aug 2016

New Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls is looking to fund an election year spending spree through the sale of Western Power.

Mr Grylls confirmed his support for the sale of Western Power on Perth radio yesterday, making it conditional on the proceeds being used to fund new projects around WA.

Unions representing thousands of Western Australian electrical workers slammed the Nationals’ support for privatisation, saying it would come at great cost to regional communities.

Electrical Trades Union WA Branch Secretary Les McLaughlan said regional WA was particularly vulnerable to the impacts of privatisation.

“Regional communities have the most to lose from the privatisation of Western Power, because Western Power currently funds the Tariff Equalisation Fund, which subsidises the cost of power outside of Perth,” he said.

“Once Western Power is sold, it is highly unlikely that the new private owner will continue to support regional communities in this way, and regional power bills will go up.

“Regional WA also has the most to lose from the cuts to maintenance budgets that will occur as the new private owner of Western Power looks to reduce costs and boost profits.

“Cuts to maintenance budgets will mean longer waiting times to fix faults, and will inevitably increase the risk of bushfire.”

Australian Services Union WA Branch Secretary Wayne Wood said selling a major public asset for the purposes of pork barreling was politics at its worst.

“Western Power is an asset that generates revenue for the State Government each year, which goes to fund services like health and education,” he said.

“To sell or lease a revenue generating asset of this type, so that Mr Grylls can embark on another spending spree around the State, is short term populist thinking, the likes of which Donald Trump might be proud.

“Brendon Grylls has shown in the past that he has little regard for the impact of his policies on the State budget.  This will cost the State budget hundreds of millions in lost revenue each year.”