MEDIA RELEASE: Friday, 25 January 2019
With up to 200,000 homes in Victoria having their power cut off under load-shedding orders and energy prices reaching $14,500 a megawatt it’s clear privatising Australia’s energy has failed the people.
Electrical Trades Union National Secretary Allen Hicks said it was time Australia took back its power because private companies were more concerned with keeping their profits up than keeping lights and air conditioners on.
“This is what happens when you hand over our essential energy production to the private market,” he said.
“The private market’s concern is profit, not providing reasonably priced power to the people in times of need.”
Mr Hicks said prices in South Australia and Victoria skyrocketed during the heatwave because the private energy companies have for years failed to invest their profit in new renewable generation and infrastructure.
“They’ve allowed power stations to become dilapidated and because it’s been left up to the free market, not enough new generation has been built.
“Energy companies have shut-off generators for maintenance in the middle of summer when everyone knew to expect long hot and dry spells.”
The ETU National Secretary said it was no different to Telstra, which was privatised in the mid-1990s and quickly turned its attention to profit instead of a providing service for the nation.
“In private hands, Telstra did nothing to prepare Australia’s communications system for the 21st Century and that’s why the government had to step and build the NBN,” Mr Hicks said.
“If we want to fix Australia’s energy woes, we cannot leave it up to the market because the market’s only concern is profit.
“If Australia is to fix these ongoing problems with our electricity supply, so we stop cutting off power to homes in the middle of heatwaves, we need publicly built, owned and operated renewable power generation.
“And we need to pursue the Just Transition now so workers at aging coal-fire powerplants can reskill and continue to work in their trade.
“It’s time the Australian people took back their power so we can be sure the public’s needs come before private company profits.”
Mr Hicks also expressed gratitude for ETU and CEPU members’ perseverance working through recent heatwaves that have blanketed the nation.
“We’re grateful our members’ hard work over the summer, especially with the temperature in the high 40s yesterday in South Australia and Victoria,” he said.
“We know our members are working tirelessly to keep the power flowing through oppressive conditions and we know the people of Australia are thankful for their hard work too.”