WA business warns against union deceit on privatisation

The Western Australian business community has urged WA voters to take note of some unions spreading lies about privatisation in light of the misrepresentation of comments made by ACCC chairman Rod Sims, says the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI).

Mr Sims has said some union advertisements against the partial privatisation of Western Power have taken his remarks out of context to suggest he does not support privatisation.

Mr Sims has since clarified that he is not against privatisation and his earlier comments were referring to privatisations where there is a lack of adequate price regulation in place.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said power pricing in Western Australia was regulated by a number of agencies and the partial sale of Western Power was vital for WA budget repair and infrastructure projects.

“The misuse of remarks by ACCC Chairman Rod Sims shows that misinformation is rife in some union campaigns against the partial privatisation of Western Power,” Ms Willmott said.

“Power pricing in Western Australia is regulated by a number of bodies, including the independent Economic Regulatory Authority, regardless of whether the asset is in private or public hands – private and public sector asset owners have no control over the cost of power.

“The partial sale of Western Power will bring private sector efficiencies to the asset which will actually lead to improved service delivery for consumers and the proposed $3 billion Next Generation Account for infrastructure will kick-start employment and create thousands of jobs for Western Australian workers.

“Given the $3.4 billion budget deficit projected for 2016-17 and with state debt tipped to reach $39.7 billion in 2020, a meaningful asset sales program will be a vital part of any future State Government’s financial management program. The proposed partial sale model for Western Power is anticipated to reduce State debt by around $8 billion, which will boost business confidence, attract investment and take us one step closer to regaining the critical AAA credit rating.

“CCI has long called for the sale of Western Power, and indeed of any asset that does not naturally need to be owned by the state – given the WA budget position, an asset sales program will be vital to any future government’s budget and infrastructure strategy. CCI urges all political parties to take note of the PWC-CCI ‘Case for Change’ paper that dispels many damaging myths about electricity asset privatisation in Western Australia.

“CCI and the WA business community have also long called for a 20-year infrastructure plan – developed by an independent body – to set out Western Australia’s infrastructure agenda beyond the political life cycle, to provide investors with the certainty they need to support planned infrastructure works that will create jobs for Western Australian workers.”

To view the PWC-CCI paper The Case for Change: Privatisation of Western Australia’s electricity networks, please click here.

Media contact: Kate Hodges – 0448 928 227

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