As Colin Barnett prepares to sell Western Power to solve his sate's financial woes, ETU members are making it clear he'll face stiff opposition.
Western Australian ETU members stood together with the community against premier Colin Barnett’s plans to privatise Western Power as the Use Your power campaign kicked into high gear in Perth in March.
Workers took to the streets to highlight the safety risk that a privatised transmission and distribution network represents in a bushfire-prone area. The worst Black Saturday fires in Victoria, which took 173 lives, were found by a Victorian Royal Commission to have been started by poorly maintained privatised electricity infrastructure.
Electrical Trades Union WA state secretary Les McLaughlan said that it was irresponsible for the Premier to knowingly increase the state’s fire risk.
“In a drying climate, all Western Australians need to work together to manage bushfire risk,” Mr McLaughlan said.
“While we will never be able to completely remove the threat, and unexpected things will always go wrong, the last thing we should be doing is knowingly increasing the risk of catastrophic fires.”
“Once electricity networks are placed in the hands of private companies, the number one factor that guides decision-making around maintenance and investment in new infrastructure is profit. Public safety becomes less of a priority.
“Colin Barnett needs to learn from the tragic failures of privatisation around Australia, and leave WA’s electricity system in public hands.”
He also pointed to rising prices for consumers as a consequence of privatisation, saying the Western Australia has the lowest energy costs in the country.
“The problem with privatisation is that the community always ends up paying, one way or another,” Mr McLaughlan said.
“Consumers end up paying higher prices, as private owners look at maximising revenue.
“Workers end up paying the price, as private owners cut jobs and apprenticeships to maximise profits.
“Fewer staff means less maintenance. This will result in less reliable power supplies, and increased bushfire risk.”
To get on board and join the campaign, check out the Use You Power campaign site.