Expert slams asset sales plan of Stanwell and ports
STANWELL and Ergon Energy workers terrified of losing their livelihood because of electricity privatisation gathered on Wednesday to hear from renowned economist John Quiggin.
After 25 years researching electricity privatisation reform, Professor Quiggin remains fiercely opposed to it.
Before the free Rockhampton forum organised by Labor's Keppel candidate Brittany Lauga, the author told The Morning Bulletin he believes the sale of Stanwell will happen.
But he described the Newman government's plans to find private investors to fund electricity distribution and transmission businesses, such as Ergon, as "bogus".
"The sale of Stanwell and the ports will go ahead," Prof Quiggin said.
"The distribution thing is just such nonsense - it will fall over.
"It's really just an accounting trick. It's just to get debt off the books."
But Ms Lauga said Stanwell and Ergon workers made up only one third of the crowd of up to 60 people.
She said the rest were people genuinely concerned about the impact privatisation would have on their power bills, and the wider community.
Prof Quiggin warned Queensland taxpayers and households would lose out in the long-term if the Newman government goes ahead with its plans to privatise $33.6billion in assets.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said $25billion would be used to pay debt. A debt that Prof Quiggin feels has been hyped up too much.
Prof Quiggin said changes from privatisation would not be noticed immediately, but Ergon could expect to lose technical staff while the number of managerial staff increases.
He also predicts privatisation will bring about the transfer of Rockhampton management to south-east Queensland.
Premier Campbell Newman earlier this year criticised Prof Quiggin's report Electricity Privatisation in Australia: A Record of Failure as it was commissioned by the Electrical Trade Union.
But Prof Quiggin told The Bulletin the governments might change, but his view remained the same.
"I said the same thing for Labor's asset sales plans," Prof Quiggin said, referring to his outspoken position when Anna Bligh was Premier.
"All electricity privatisation has been a failure."