The Journey So Far
In the lead up to the 2017 State Election, the Barnett Government indicated it would abandon the state’s long held responsibility to provide reliable and safe electricity to Western Australian households and businesses. They planned to privatise Horizon Power’s Pilbara poles and wires, as well as privatise Western Power.
If those extreme changes had been implemented, our government would no longer be involved in generating or distributing power in WA’s north. Those communities would have been completely dependent on the private sector for their electricity.
Barnett and Nahan would have also seen the state government hand over Western Power’s poles and wires to the private sector.
We would have seen prices to go up, jobs and apprenticeships cut and preventative maintenance become a thing of the past, as any private operator sought to maximise profits.
The people of WA came together to use their power to stop Colin Barnett sell our public assets.
We saw our small grassroots campaign grow into an unprecedented movement in WA, with more and more people joining our cause as the election grew near.
We saw people voice their concerns and unite their communities in town hall meetings across the state.
We saw an army of passionate volunteers take the streets of their local suburbs to convince their neighbours why this was such an important issue.
We saw thousands of supporters rally at Parliament to send a message to our politicians and make privatisation the number one election issue.
And when the election rolled around, we saw the people of Western Australia use their power at the ballot box to kick out the Barnett Government and save our state’s electricity network from privatisation.
We should pause and recognise what our campaign has achieved. There have been dark days along the way, as we watched jobs slashed at Western Power and bushfires rage during the long hot summers. There were times when we could have given up in the face of a Liberal National Government hellbent on selling off the state’s assets.
But our supporters were a constant source of inspiration to keep fighting. The mums and dads who sacrificed their Saturdays to come down to a community meeting because they were concerned about the future of our state. The tradespeople who sounded the alarm about the dangers of cutting back on staff and maintenance. The regional communities who shared their fears of losing everything if a bushfire came to their doorsteps.
Our fears have never been hyperbole or scare tactics. That’s evident in the sheer weight of support coming from across the state. When it comes to privatisation, we know the threats are real and dangerous.
But now, it seems we have to make our case once again.
Despite Western Australians rejecting privatisation at the election, some senior executives in Western Power and Synergy continue to prepare our publicly owned electricity system for privatisation. By cutting staff to reduce costs, they are working to boost profits and make our electricity system more attractive for sale.
By reducing frontline staff, the safety and reliability of our electricity system is at risk. This might be good for the bottom line, but imagine the impact on households and businesses if our electricity system starts to fail.
Western Australia’s success in recent years has been underpinned by the state government’s provision of a safe, reliable and well-priced electricity supply. Now is not the time to expose WA to the failed experiment of privatisation.
The new state government was elected on its commitment to keep WA’s electricity system in public hands. Unfortunately, some people in Western Power and Synergy didn’t get the memo.
Let’s continue to work together to stop privatisation from wreaking havoc in WA. Let’s use our power to keep WA’s publicly owned electricity system in public hands.