As privatisation looms as the Abbott Government's preferred method of reducing debt, the ASU and others are using submissions to inquiries and reviews to highlight the failures of this approach. Our submission to the Federal Government which is preparing an Energy White Paper continues this focus.
The ASU has campaigned against the privatisation of public services over the years, including commissioning research to provide independent evidence that privatising energy has failed to deliver the promised benefits.
Our submission for the Energy White Paper contains many references to the research "Electricity Privatisation in Australia - A Briefing Note" produced by Dr Phillip Toner of the University of Sydney – you can read more about it and download it here.
"As the union for energy workers across the country, the ASU is well aware of the difference between publically owned versus privatised electricity – we've seen how the latter delivers reduced reliability, cuts to services and increased prices," said Greg McLean ASU Assistant National Secretary.
"This is in addition to local job losses that impact the health of communities around the country," he added.
The ASU's submission also highlighted the revenue stream provided to State Governments. A short term gain by selling off assets is far outweighed by the long term loss of a revenue generating stream. We argue for the necessity of Government-owned, not-for-profit electricity generators.
The great myth of privatisation in the energy sector has been that increased competition between private players will benefit the consumer. No one believes this anymore, do they?
The ASU's submission also contends that an energy sector held in public hands not only provides reliability, best pricing and accountability, it provides a mechanism to encourage lower electricity use, from both the perspective of improving household budgets and providing environmental benefits. This is as opposed to privatisation where profit is the motive, including returns to overseas shareholders and their communities, rather than local communities in Australia. Privatisation is purely about profit.
In addition to the preparation of the Energy White Paper by the Federal Government, there are three other inquiries underway that also affect electricity services directly, (with two inquires also affecting other public services). The ASU has responded to all of them reiterating in strong terms our opposition to privatisation as a solution due to its many failures and the modelling of public services for profit motive.
- Energy White Paper
- Productivity Commission Inquiry into Public Infrastructure
- National Commission of Audit
- Senate Select Committee of Inquiry into the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit
The ASU will continue to advocate not just for our members employed in the electricity/energy sector, but for the community interest in local jobs and reliable electricity (energy transmission, distribution and generation) whose costs are not inflated by the profit seeking agenda of private companies.