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Queensland Unions to ramp up anti-privatisation campaign

Also published on saveourpublicassets.org.

Unions will stage a protest against privatisation outside the office of Rachel Nolan, the Queensland Minister for Transport.

Where: Booval Professional Centre, 125 Brisbane St Ipswich
When: From 2PM, Friday 31 July.

This is part of the Queensland Unions campaign to stop the fire sale of Queensland's Railways, ports, forest and roads, that is being ramped up today.

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) Executive today endorsed the escalation of the existing campaign to highlight the risk that privatisation presents for jobs and vital public services, particularly in regional Queensland.

QCU General Secretary Ron Monaghan said the Executive had endorsed the ramping-up of the campaign following the already widespread opposition from the community to the government's decision.

"We are in the last week of a five week long tour of regional Queensland and the public is extremely angry about the government's decision to sell-off these public assets.

"Unions have been visiting towns and cities across the state and the response is the same wherever we go - people are worried for their jobs and the future of their communities.

"Regional Queensland faces a particularly difficult future with Queensland Rail providing stable employment in many regional towns for thousands of workers.

"Who knows what may happen when private industry needs to reduce services and cut jobs to maintain profits and shareholder returns?

"The government needs to get the message that this is not the answer to its budgetary woes and we'll continue to campaign until this message gets through."

Mr Monaghan said the next phase of the campaign would involve more strategic campaigning in addition to ongoing union activities and would include:

  • research and focus groups;
  • TV, radio and newspapers ads planned in Brisbane and regional Queensland over the next 12 months; and
  • an interactive campaign website.

"We are committed to changing the government's mind on this decision and we anticipate spending around $400,000 on this phase of the campaign over the coming 12 months."

**A major rally against the sell-off will be held in Ipswich this Friday, 31 July outside Minister Rachel Nolan's office (Booval Professional Centre, 125 Brisbane St) from 2:00pm**

More info: Tania Reeves (QCU Media/Comms Officer) 0418 700 419

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Comments

Under Jeff Kennett in the 1990s, Victoria embarked on the biggest privatisation program of any region in the world, selling public assets for more than $30 billion, and redirecting services valued at a further $10 billion into private hands. Public debt was cut from a crippling 30 per cent of Victoria's gross domestic product to 1 per cent.

The State Government claims improvements in service, reliability and costs through its public transport deal, but consumer lobby groups and unions tell a different story - of assets run down, eroded safety standards and price increases.

His sale of electricity brought in $20 billion, but Safety standards have slipped, job security is difficult to find, there are contractors everywhere and they are not training apprentices, and this has creating a skills shortage.

Victoria's state debt was slashed, and history has shown the Kennett government negotiated exceptional prices for many of the assets sold.

The privatisation drive of the '90s resulted in the State Electricity Commission, the Gas and Fuel Corporation and the rail and tramway networks were broken up and sold off. These giants had employed hundreds of apprentices each year, forming a de facto training ground for private industry. When they were sold, the private sector failed to pick up the slack. Now apprentices in these trades are facing unemployment! This has caused skills shortages in trades. These jobs are being outsourced by foreign investors who are not interested in serving the people of Victoria's or providing skills and experience to young people. We are competing with international interests and Victorians are facing higher unemployment, and TAFEs have introduced a HECS type of loan system with fees that will escalate!

Training and education costs will cause further casualties for Victorians seeking education and qualifications, and students are finding themselves competing for places with International students! Our own interests have been subjugated in favour of globalisation.