Wednesday 1st of February 2023

bodgey wiring .....

bodgey wiring .....

keep power in our hands: campaign against NSW electricity privatisation …..  

By Dr Patricia Ranald 

Just before Christmas the NSW Iemma Government announced that it was planning to sell its electricity retail business and lease its power generating plants to private companies. The leasing arrangement would transfer management and control of the assets and has the same impact as privatisation, despite government claims that the infrastructure would remain public. 

This contradicts current Labor Party Policy and was not raised before the last election. Opinion polls show that 70% of people oppose electricity privatisation. The previous Carr Labor Government’ privatisation proposal was defeated at a Labor Party conference in 1997. Liberal governments in Victoria and South Australia were defeated after privatisation raised prices and increased blackouts. 

UnionsNSW has convened meetings of union members and begun a community campaign against the sell-off, which will soon include TV advertising to counter the government’s advertising. The website at www.stoptheselloff.org.au has letters and petitions to the premier against the sale, as well the detailed submission to the NSW government from Professor Sharon Beder, an international expert on the power industry, which demolishes the government’s arguments. 

Privatisation  will not increase government income  

The Government claims that it will use the proceeds from the sales to fund health and environmental infrastructure. But the international evidence from shows that the income from privatisation is generally less than the revenue lost from selling the asset. Economist Professor Richard Blandy concluded that the South Australian electricity privatisation produced “no net benefit to state government finances.” Economist Professor John Quiggan also confirmed that there was no net gain from privatisation from the Victorian government (quoted in the Beder Report, p. 8)Privatisation will mean profits come before the environment.  

International research shows that private companies have to deliver high short term returns to shareholders. They can charge higher prices when there is a shortage of capacity, and therefore delay investment in new power capacity. They are driven to choose the least cost technology. Governments are not driven by short term profitability, and can plan to use emerging and renewable technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Beder Report, p 4). 

Privatisation will further concentrate private control of a vital service in fewer more powerful hands and reduce government ability to regulate  

The private companies that have lobbied for privatisation include those that already own generation and retail assets, and have a poor record of underinvestment, high prices and unreliable service provision in Victoria and South Australia (See below). It is madness for the NSW government to help consolidate vertically integrated private international monopolies. Because the US-Australia Free Trade Free Trade Agreement did not exclude the private electricity industry, it will be impossible for governments to ensure any level of Australian ownership after privatisation. This was confirmed when the Federal government had to withdraw its provision for Australian ownership in the 2006 proposal to privatise the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Scheme.  That privatisation was defeated by community campaigning. Both the AUSFTA and the WTO Trade in Services Agreement (GATS) also restrict governments from having regulations in privatised industries that are “too burdensome” for business.  

Privatisation will mean higher prices for an essential service  

International research shows that prices increase after privatisation .The NSW government’s own figures show that NSW electricity prices are 30% lower than South Australia’s and 10% lower than Victoria’s, as prices for both households and  small business rose steeply in both states after privatisation (Beder Report p, 18).

Privatisation will mean more blackouts  

International research from the US shows that private companies maximize profits by cutting staff, investment and maintenance, resulting in more power failures. Blackouts in Victoria increased by 32% in the four years after privatisation (1994-99).In South Australia in the summer peak period, blackouts have increased and some businesses find the cost of power so high that they can make more money by shutting down and selling the power they would have used (Beder Report, pp 18-19). 

Take Action Now Community campaigning defeated the privatisation of NSW electricity in 1997, and the privatisation of Snowy Mountains Hydro in 2006. Privatisation can be defeated again.  

Go to www.stoptheselloff.org.au to send a message to the Premier and get a petition to sign, and take to your family, friends and community group.

when even appearance doesn't rate .....

from Crikey ….. 

Iemma's crusade to privatise the NSW power industry 

Alex Mitchell writes: 

NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa will stop at nothing to secure the privatisation of the state's power industry.  

If defeated on the floor at the ALP state conference in April, they are ready to go ahead with their plans anyway. And why not? Neither are expected to be around at the next state election in 2011: Iemma is planning to hand over to his deputy John Watkins and Costa wants to spread his limitless financial genius in the private counting houses.  

To build a fake constituency for the sell-off, Iemma has appointed a committee to review the effects of electricity privatisation. It contains a conga-line of pro-privateers who are unswerving Iemma loyalists: Robyn Kruk, the Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, David Richmond, the NSW Co-ordinator-General (the State's infrastructure tzar), former premier Barrie Unsworth, a former electrician and NSW Labor Council chief who will chair the committee, Maroubra MP Michael Daley (he took over Bob Carr's old constituency in 2005 when Carr moved to Macquarie Bank) and Monaro MP Steve Whan.  

The union representatives are right-winger Matt Thistlewaite from Unions NSW who was a longtime admirer of Health Minister Reba Meagher, Ben Kruse of the United Services Union, and Steve Turner of the Public Service Association which is currently negotiating a delicate pay, jobs and working conditions deal with the government.  

The so-called community reps are Jeff Angel, head of the environmental lobby group, the Total Environment Centre, which is part-funded by independent projects paid for by the government, and the Rev Harry Herbert whose Uniting Church holds the contract to run the government's heroin safe injecting room in the middle of Kings Cross.  

Hilariously, The Sydney Morning Herald's Brian Robins described the committee's make-up as "delicately poised" when the only serious absentees appear to be Bob Carr and his Macquarie Bank boss Alan Moss! The committee will complete its strenuous investigation over the next four weeks and hand its report to Iemma on 22 February. Four days later parliament resumes for 2008 when an enabling bill for privatisation will be presented, pre-empting the debate at the party conference by several weeks.  

These are ugly political times: the dominant right-wing faction is ramrodding the agenda to the wild applause of the Liberals and the Big End of Town; the so-called "left" from the Anthony Albanese faction are toeing the line in parliament and the unions; the other "left" group, the Ferguson faction, is divided, not on principle but on degrees of opportunism; and rank-and-file ALP branch members who are 90 per cent against the plan are being ignored.  

This is Blair-style New Labor in action and the fall-out will be far-reaching.

michael the magic metre maid .....

Treasurer Michael Costa has issued a bring-it-on message to the union movement and the rank-and-file of the Labor Party on power privatisation, declaring that the NSW Government will ignore any resolution of the Labor Party's state conference this year opposing the sale. 

Mr Costa issued a defiant "I don't care" today when asked if he feared expulsion from the Labor Party should the Government ignore a resolution of the state conference in May not to go ahead with the $15 billion sale. 

Costa Tells Unions: I Don't Care

putting in the fix .....

from Crikey ….. 

NSW Labor to fight Iemma on privatisation 

Alex Mitchell writes: 

The blowtorch to the belly of the Iemma Government over its plans to privatise the NSW power industry has become a whole lot more menacing. A largely unreported weekend conference of Labor Party members held in Sydney voted unanimously to oppose the sale and called on Labor MPs to end their deafening silence and vote against the legislation when it is tabled, possibly next week. 

The seminar was notable for the fact that it was chaired by ALP state president Bernie Riordan, who also happens to be the secretary of the Electrical Trades Union and the son of Whitlam minister Joe Riordan. 

For the record, the two motions passed were: 

This meeting of NSW rank and file ALP members: 

* Supports the continued, full public ownership of the NSW electricity industry.  

* Opposes the scheme to lease Government owned generators and to sell retail licenses. Or any proposition which would seek to separate ownership and control of either generation or retailing. 

This meeting of NSW rank and file ALP members calls for ALP parliamentary representatives not to shelter behind the notion of "Cabinet solidarity" or the more recent invention of "Caucus solidarity".

We therefore call on our ALP parliamentary representatives to stand up and be counted in Caucus, State Conference and other party forums against the privatization of electricity. 

When State Parliament resumes next Tuesday, refortified MPs returning from their 11-week break will be met by a protest in Macquarie Street opposing the sale, but it will be ignored by the premier and his Treasurer Michael Costa. 

They seem oblivious to the growing chorus of opposition to the sale which is predicted to net $15 billion to be allocated to various overdue infrastructure projects. 

The ALP’s all-powerful administrative committee meets in early March to decide whether to approve the sell-off or to oppose it when the state conference is held at Sydney Town Hall on May 3 and 4. 

The stakes are incredibly high. Iemma and Costa, a former secretary of the NSW Labor Council, have already indicated they will ignore any decision by the ALP to oppose the sale. That would place them on a direct collision course with the labor and trade union movement and make the looming conflict over wages and jobs even more acrimonious. 

Sensing Iemma's difficulties, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has bought into the debate backing the premier. This has been the signal for the right-wing machine led by Senator-elect Mark Arbib, Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal and Education Minister John Della Bosca, all former party general secretaries, to be set loose to twist arms and win the conference vote.

Three former premiers, Neville Wran, Barrie Unsworth and Bob Carr, are also doing their bit to engineer the sale ... and save the political neck of Morris Iemma.