With the NSW election only a couple of short weeks away and pre-poll voting kicking off on Monday it has become clear that the selling off of the NSW electricity network is the hot issue.
Privatisation was a hot issue in the recent QLD election which saw a Coalition government booted out of office after just one term, despite the huge swing towards the Coalition in the previous election.
In NSW, Mike Baird wants to sell off one asset that is used the virtually everyone living in NSW, our power network.
Mike Baird refers to this as a lease, and it is a lease, however it is one that lasts 99 years. That means that the network will be out of public hands for our lifetime, our children’s lifetime, and a good chunk of our grandchildren’s lifetime.
Labor leader Luke Foley tells us that we will never have it back, it will be gone for good. Foley has been accused of running a scare-campaign with his comments given the lease is 99 years. So is it just a scare campaign to think we will never have the whole distribution network back?
99 years is a long time, and while the proposed lease is 99 years in length there is nothing to stop that being further extended at a later stage.
It does not take the love child of Nostradamus and a rocket scientist to figure out that at some point in the next 99 years there will be a State government in NSW that might find a huge cash injection handy and be tempted to further extend the lease. This is a rather inconvenient truth that Mike Baird is choosing to ignore.
Another inconvenient truth that Baird is ignores is that unlike governments who collect tax to provide services, private enterprises provide products and services for a profit. These private enterprises have a strange tendency to seek to maximise profits and often have shareholders to appease. So when Baird tries to tell us that there will be no long-term prices rises at all it is naturally being treated with all of the scepticism a ridiculous claim like that deserves.
Where we are fortunate in NSW is we are able to judge the impacts of the privatisation of the network by the results in other states, such as Victoria.
The impact in Victoria has understandably been ignored by “Team Baird”.
The Victorian sell off saw 8,000 jobs lost, bills increase by between 60 and 70%, and as costs and corners are cut a 32% increase in blackouts.
Nice plan Mike…
So, will it cost Baird the election?
The jury is still out on that one although one thing is for sure, it will have an impact.
A couple of weeks ago on talk back radio, Mike Baird in the studio was asked a great question by a caller, the question went along the lines of this;
“I am a Liberal voter, how can I vote Liberal and vote against the power privatisation?”
Baird was clearly dumbfounded with this question and his answer was to waffle on about “Under Labor…. Blah, blah, blah”
The simple answer to the caller would be “You can’t”. A vote for Mike Baird, the Liberal Party, or the National Party is a vote to sell off the electricity network, pure and simple.
The sell-off many are referring to as madness, Mike Baird is calling a mandate, should he win that is.
The effect this policy could have on the election is an interesting one, as a recent Vote Compass conducted by the ABC shows.
While the vast majority of those who support the sell-off are Coalition supporters and the vast majority of those who oppose it are Labor supporters there are some significant findings in the results that may quite alarm Mike Baird.
Around a quarter of Liberal voters surveyed opposed the privatisation. That is a huge volume of voters polled as Liberal voters who are opposed to Mike Baird’s key policy, if even 10% of those voters see it as an issue important enough to change their voting habit that could mean a 2.5% drop in Coalition primary votes.
Not only that the survey showed that it is those in regional areas that are the most opposed to the power sell off.
These are the National Party voters that are sick of being sold out by their members. Whether it’s the effects of drought or flooding being brought on by the effects of climate change that their leaders continue to dismiss, the Coalitions continual reliance on the Coal Seam Gas industry or the trashing of the NBN that was going to see their businesses compete on a level playing field and revolutionise the health industry in regional areas, National Party voters are sick of seeing their needs pushed aside over the short-term interests of business lobbyists in an expensive suits. This is what is pushing regional voters towards Country Labor, or fringe party’s like the Katter Australia Party, and Palmer United Party.
Something that must also keep the Liberal Party faceless up at night is that the ABC Vote Compass also found that the issue of privatisation was even more important to voters in NSW than it was to voters in QLD.
For those who don’t know a great deal about the sell-off, below is a video that explains things in basic terms.
I hope NSW voters decide to take a strong and passionate stand against the privatisation of our electricity distribution network and vote to keep the profits in the taxpayer’s pocket rather than some corporation.
I’m no fortune-teller or psychic but I will make this prediction. If Mike Baird wins the election on the 28th and the electricity sell off occurs, I predict that within a few years the boardroom of whatever corporation ends up running our power network will not only be made up of greedy profiteering businessmen, it will also be loaded with former Liberal Ministers.
Call that a hunch…