MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Unions NSW is today calling on the Federal Government to consider new means of funding public services and infrastructure instead of supporting the selloff of publicly-owned assets for alleged one-off financial gains.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon and other union leaders will appear before a Senate Economics Committee inquiring into the privatisation of state assets.

“We don’t believe there is sufficient benefit for the public by selling off state government assets like the electricity network or parts of the hospital system and placing these valuable assets into the hands of private operators,” Mr Lennon said.

In its submission to the Senate inquiry, Unions NSW has recommended public infrastructure could be financed by a mix of State government borrowings, and new levies on institutional trades of currencies, stocks, bonds, derivatives and interest rate securities.

“The privatisation agenda of the last three decades has resulted in cuts to public services, finalising of precious few large infrastructure projects and an on-going budget deficit,” Mr Lennon said.

“The NSW Government is trying to hoodwink the public into believing that selling off public assets equates to good economic management and that’s simply not the case.”

Mr Lennon said unions were opposed to the Baird Government’s plans to privatise 49 per cent of the electricity network operated by Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.

“History tells us this will drive up costs for consumers, reduce the number of jobs in the industry and cut $1.7 billion dollars a year in dividend payments to the state government which currently finances schools and hospitals.”

Mr Lennon said recent polling showed that the public does not support foreign ownership of our public assets and the majority believe they will be worse off if the electricity network is privatised.

“Evidence from Victoria and South Australia shows that privatisation has resulted in higher prices and a poorer quality service so why does he still wish to proceed with this plan?”

“It is clear that asset recycling doesn’t work. This is just another example of how Tony Abbott and Mike Baird are in cahoots with each other. It’s nothing but the Federal Government fanning the flames of the State Government’s fire sale of our valuable public assets.”

NSW Premier Mike Baird has refused to appear before the Committee.

Media comment: Mark Lennon 0427 231 800

Media contact: Saoirse Connolly 0437048169

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