Two years on, Western Power is still under threat of privatisation

Tuesday 19 Mar 2019

Last week marked two years since the 2017 State Election.

Two years ago, you turned out in record numbers to use your power at the ballot box to save Western Power and keep WA’s electricity system falling into private hands.

Together, we sent a clear message to our politicians that we completely rejected privatising our essential services.

It turns out that some people have already forgotten that message.

In an interview with the ABC to mark the anniversary of the election, the then Treasurer and now WA Liberal leader Mike Nahan said his party was weighing up whether to resurrect the policy to privatise Western Power.

When asked directly about his current thoughts on the policy, he said "that is a policy we haven't decided on,” and asserted that the mood had changed around the idea of selling Western Power.

That’s a bold claim to make, especially when the policies of the former Barnett Government saw the Liberals lose 18 seats in a historic election defeat.

Dr Nahan seems to think this is a fickle issue for WA voters, that anti-privatisation sentiment is somehow a passing fancy.

But we know that the experience of privatisation in Australia and around the world is that it leads to higher prices, job losses, and poorer quality services. This is because the number one priority of private companies is to make a profit.

That hasn’t changed in two years. We doubt many voters have changed their minds on those facts either.

Our public assets belong to us, the people of Western Australia. They should be owned and operated by the community and for the benefit of the community.

It seems that despite Colin Barnett leaving WA politics, the ideas of the previous government are still front and centre in the minds of those Liberals left in Parliament today.

There’s still two years before the next State Election, but comments like these from the Liberal leadership illustrate that we have to remain active and vocal in our opposition to the privatisation of our electricity system.

We have to continue to talk to the dangers of privatisation and remove any ounce of ambiguity on this issue. We have to make it clear to the Liberals that the mood very much remains the same. 

Perhaps we can finally convince Dr Nahan that he’s wrong about this. But if he decides to try again and take this policy to the next election, he can count on us to stop the sale of Western Power again.