New regional advertising campaign targets Grylls privatisation agenda

Monday 22 Aug 2016

Unions representing thousands of electricity workers have launched an advertising campaign in Geraldton, Bunbury and the greater South West this week, targeting new National Party leader Brendon Grylls’ plan to privatise Western Power.

The campaign has commenced with radio commercials on both AM and FM radio, and will include print and online advertising. The campaign will run in the leadup to the National Party’s state conference in Geraldton in late October, and on to the State Election in March.

Upon replacing Terry Redman as Nationals leader, Mr Grylls indicated his support for the sale of Western Power, making it conditional on the proceeds being used to fund new projects.

Electrical Trades Union WA Branch Secretary Les McLaughlan said the Nationals’ support for privatisation would come at great cost to regional communities.

“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.

“If 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 the campaign would highlight the Nationals decision to exempt mining billionaires from paying its proposed mining tax, while insisting on the privatisation of Western Power.        

“For reasons he is yet to explain, Mr Grylls has decided to exempt billionaires like Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest from paying his proposed mining tax, but says privatising Western Power is essential to raise money for new projects,” he said.

“In taking this decision, Mr Grylls is protecting the profits of the wealthy at the expense of electrical workers, electricity consumers and our families.

“Our campaign is deliberately targeting electorates that the National Party is trying to defend against, or pickup from, the Liberal Party.  Behind the phony public debate, the Liberals and Nationals are united in their enthusiasm to privatise Western Power, and we’ll be making sure voters in regional electorates are fully aware of this.

“Our campaign will be encouraging National Party members and supporters to stand up against the privatisation of Western Power at their state conference in Geraldton in October.”