Electricity workers protest sell-off of power assets
ELECTRICITY industry workers fearing job losses across regional Queensland today loudly protested against privatising the state's power assets ahead of tomorrow's budget release.
Holding Not4Sale signs on the steps of the Executive Building in Brisbane, they shouted "shame" as the Electrical Trades Union suggested the LNP would put $32 billion worth of government-owned assets on the table and seek a mandate at the next election.
The Queensland Government could pocket a potential $28 billion from allowing private investment in Powerlink, Ergon and Energex, $3 billion for government-owned generators CS Energy and Stanwell and $1.7 billion for the two ports and the Mount Isa to Townsville rail line.
ETU organiser Stuart Traill said the LNP would try to use its overwhelming majority to "ram this through".
He said the ETU's role was to travel across the state through to the election to "educate people about the pitfalls of privatisation".
"There's likely to be announcements about privatisation of power stations and ports, all profit-making assets that are going to see that revenue lost forever if this LNP gets a mandate," he said.
"Previous experience within Victoria and South Australia demonstrates that electricity prices increases.
"So we're likely to see further increase to electricity after privatisation, a reduction in services and a significant reduction in jobs … right across regional Queensland."
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli, who was walking into the Executive Building for the final Cabinet meeting ahead of budget release tomorrow, said he wished only yelling and screaming could fix Queensland's debt problem.
"We're not selling the poles or the wires but we've got a big debt issue we have to deal with," he said.
Mr Traill said there had already been 712 electricity jobs lost in Queensland since the LNP came to power and he expected to see more.
"History shows that maintenance gets cut right back, reduce to maximise profits for the shareholders instead of delivering a service to the people of Queensland," he said.
Mr Traill admitted the ETU would seek funding and donations to ensure a solid grassroots campaign across all LNP seat.
He said they had a "fair war chest" for the fight but nothing like the $6 million the Queensland Government spent on its Strong Choices campaign.
"We're confident we've got enough to turf the LNP out," he said.
Fellow ETU state organiser Jason Young, who represents workers for power generators CS Energy and Stanwell, said the LNP was just giving business to their mates.
"They've destroyed the future of regional Queensland and now they're setting these power stations up for sale," he said.
Australian Services Union campaign organiser Louise Ryan said selling assets was a short-sighted plan.