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John Kaye says NSW Greens will make electricity a public asset again

Greens member of the NSW Legislative Council, John Kaye, has previously stood up against privatisation of that state's electricity and we have published some speeches to that effect by him here at Major newspapers carried quotes about his opposition and we publish here what he says on his website. I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that James Sinnamon, the owner of isa fierce opponent of privatisation and had intended to run as a candidate in the seat of Brisbane in the 2010 Federal Election on this issue. Unfortunately he was hospitalised for months after a terrible collision between his bicycle and a 4WD and so he never ran in an election where, ironically, he just might have won against the usual odds. We will write about this one day.

"The NSW Government's $5.3 billion electricity sell-off was a "mad dash for cash" carried out with "appalling" timing, says a former director of a state-owned energy company. Overall the deal netted the state government $5.3 billion, an amount heavily criticised for being poor value by the state opposition."

Editor: The above sentence comes from an article published in the Australian here: "Chaos hits $5.3bn NSW power sell-off as directors on two boards quit in protest " therefore we cannot publish it in total on

It goes on to say that the NSW Greens are going to "introduce legislation in the next parliament to return the electricity industry to public ownership and stop future governments selling assets without the approval of both houses of parliament, Greens MP John Kaye announced on Saturday 5th Feb.

John Kaye presents a good example which the Victorian and Queensland Greens probably won't follow

Wish the Victorian Greens and the Queensland Greens would stand up on their hindlegs over privatisation as well.

We have previously carried a few speeches by John Kaye on this issue.

Here is what John Kaye has published on his website:

Welcome to the website of Greens NSW MP John Kaye

John Kaye is a Greens member of the NSW Legislative Council

Stop the Power Sell-Off

  • All power privatisations are bad for the economy, employment, hoNSW not for sale_small.JPGusehold power bills and the environment.

  • This power sell-off is particularly bad: profits from the sale of electricity are being handed over to the private sector, but many of the financial risks remain with the public.

  • Reducing NSW's contribution to climate change will be much more difficult and expensive if the private sector has control of the generator outputs. The power industry creates 40% (60 million tonnes CO2 per year) of this state's greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Household power bills will increase as the gentraders seek to make more profit.

  • Jobs will be lost after the protection period expires. Call centre work will be sent overseas.

  • NSW is losing a valuable income stream worth much more than the $5.3 billion sale price. The assets that have been sold return $750 million a year which pays for teachers, nurses and hospitals. The structure of the sale (gentraders), uncertainty about the future of carbon prices and the brewing international economic storm have minimised the sale price.

  • Secret deals to subsidise coal prices for the gentraders mean that NSW taxpayers will be footing the bill for years to come.

  • The Keneally government has no mandate to sell the gentraders or the retailers. Privatisation was not mentioned during the last election.

  • Opinion polls show that the people of NSW oppose electricity privatisation. Parliament has an obligation to tell the government they should cancel the contracts and keep all of the power industry in public hands.

Some points about the transaction:

  • The resignation of the directors of the state-owned generators is a measure of how uneconomic the deal is for NSW.

  • Proroguing parliament and intimidating inquiry witnesses show that the Keneally government has much to hide.

  • The people of NSW have a right to know what Treasurer Roozendaal and the Keneally government have done to their power assets.

  • It's not too late to reverse the sell-off

    The Keneally government has walked away from the mess they have created leaving NSW with a dysfunctional electricity industry.

    The unsustainable mix of private gentraders at some power stations and public control at others can only be resolved by reversing the original sale.

    The collapse of the second wave of sell-offs will make it easier to bring all of the state's coal-fired generators back under public control.

    Take action! 

    Send an email message to be sent to members of the NSW Legislative Council ('Upper House') to voice your opposition to the Treasurer's power sell-off and to call for the sale to be reversed.


    The lessons of decline of electricity supply due to privatisation in Victoria, and the consequential effects, should have been taken by NSW before their fire-sale.

    Victoria's State Electricity Commission (SEC) generated and sold power to Victorian consumers from 1926 to 1998. In every single year it reduced the real price of power to customers. The SEC ensured cheap and safe power management for Victorians.

    The Victorian Liberal Government of Jeff Kennett in the 1990s decided to sell the SEC to a private power-generating company to pay off some of Victoria's debt. It was assured that the company would do a better job than the SEC, and more cheaply.

    The SEC also trained thousands of apprentices in electricity and other workplace skills.The SEC (Vic) used to have its own apprentice intake twice a year, now that they don't exists the apprentice numbers have dropped, at a time of Australia's so-called "skills shortages".

    Many of these highly skilled tradesmen found their way into the wider workforce. In a similar manner, the SEC also trained engineers and other skilled workers, not all of whom chose to remain in the commission's employ but became independent tradesmen. Either way, the community got the benefit of skills-training provided by the SEC.

    The current privately-owned generating companies do none of this. What is favourable about privatisation of electricity generation and distribution is simple — public ownership allows too much bargaining power to electricity workers and their unions. Privatisation bypasses the public's grass-roots level political powers.

    The idea of privatisation is that competition will mean that prices will fall, service reliability will be improved and governments will be able to use the income from privatisation on public infrastructure, and paying off public debt. It's not about service and ownership, but profits and free market forces.

    In the tragic Black Saturday bush-fires, some fires were started by poorly maintained power lines. The SEC maintained its generating and delivery systems in pristine condition. Private companies can neither afford to do what the SEC did, nor can they ensure back-up electricity generation to help with demand surges.

    The sale of the power industry was about politicians selling off long term benefits for short-term gain. Private companies are there to make profits, not provide a public service. What appears now is a collusion between electricity sellers, and it appears that we have a monopoly not of public owned provider but between privately owned companies. Competition is stifled and we end up with less services and increasing costs! With a price on carbon, the costs will be passed onto consumers. Prices could even double!

    Now, there are issues with Brumby's ill-advised Smart Meters. They are mandatory. That imposes serious obligations on those who are forcing them into 2.5 million homes and businesses.

    Whistleblowers are stepping forward. They say training is inadequate, and supervision rare. It's made worse because 75 per cent of installers are paid per job, not by salary. Installers are under qualified, and they are using Indian subcontractors. There are reports of badly installed meters, causing threats to safety.

    Smart Meters are supposed to be more efficient in tracking energy usage, but they also allow energy retailers to charge more for electricity during times of peak demand. Unless you work night shift and sleep all day, and most people don't, you'll almost certainly end up with higher electricity bills once you get a smart meter.

    People at home during the day will get slugged the most - pensioners, the unemployed, stay-at-home parents and people who work at home.