Unions ramp up regional advertising campaign against Grylls’ privatisation agenda

Friday 14 Oct 2016

Unions representing thousands of electricity workers will ramp up their advertising campaign in Bunbury and the South West this weekend, targeting new Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ plan to privatise Western Power.

Radio commercials will air on both AM and FM stations, complemented by print and online advertising in the lead-up to the State Election in March.

A community town hall meeting will also be staged in Bunbury on Sunday, October 23, to discuss the ramifications of the Liberal National Government’s planned privatisation of Western Power.  

Local Labor and Nationals candidates for next year’s State Election, Don Punch and James Hayward, will be joined by Western Power employees for a panel discussion on the government’s plan to sell the publicly owned asset. Liberal candidate Ian Morison has given his apologies for the event.

WA Labor Energy Spokesperson Bill Johnston MLA will also be part of the panel.

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 likely impacts of the privatisation of Western Power upon regional communities.

“Mr Grylls and the WA Nationals are now singing from the same song sheet as the Liberals, and are clearly planning to sell out communities in the regions,” he said.

“Our campaign is deliberately targeting electorates that the National Party is trying to defend against, or pick up 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.

“The Nationals WA need to stand up for what’s in the best interest of WA’s regional communities and leave WA’s electricity system in public ownership.”