RETIRED Osborne Park electrical technician Charlie Quinsee has warned that the privatisation of Western could lead to jobs and apprenticeships being lost and costs rise.
Mr Quinsee said Western Power’s direction in recent years gave a glimpse of what was to come.
“I think we are already seeing it over the last few years where they have cut back on staff,” he said.
“With anything that will be sold to be run at a profit they cut away what they consider to be the fat to make it attractive to potential private sector buyers.
“With fewer staff you see more problems – like pole-top fires.”
Mr Quinsee said he appreciated the need to get the State budget under control but the proposed 51 per cent sale of Western Power was a drastic measure.
“I know we have a budget crisis, but if people have money trouble you don’t sell your fridge and your washing machine, you cut back on things, make savings; but you don’t sell the front door of your house.”
He said rising living costs hit people on low fixed incomes, like pensioners, very hard.
“What some people don’t realise is that power prices have already gone up 60 per cent in the last five or six years.”
Treasurer Mike Nahan told the Stirling Times that claims electricity bills would increase because of the proposed sale were “false, baseless, misleading and blatant scaremongering”.
“All the evidence – from credible, independent sources including the ACCC, the Australian Energy Regulator, the Grattan Institute, and leading accounting firms – points to privatised electricity networks having greater success in keeping electricity costs as low as possible, simply because they operate more efficiently,” he said.
Mr Nahan said several independent regulators would continue to oversee the various parts of Western Power, including pricing, safety, reliability, and performance.
“As part of the Government’s plan to sell 51 per cent of Western Power via a public float, it will be business as usual for workers at Western Power as strict employee protections will be outlined as part of the sale process,” he said.
Unions WA Secretary Meredith Hammat said several hundred people had already lost their jobs as the State Government prepared for the sale.
“Our message on privatisation is clear; we want it stopped because it costs jobs, costs households and leads to cuts in services,” she said.
“We know from the sale of electricity over east, that private electricity companies take on far, far fewer apprentices.”