Union labels LNP energy Bill a “jackboot takeover”

The ETU's Peter Ong

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) QLD NT hasn’t held back on what it thinks of the Federal Government’s Treasury Laws Amendment (Electricity Price Monitoring) Bill 2018, which aims to give divestiture powers to the treasurer.

ETU QLD NT says the Federal Government’s “poorly written” legislation was nothing more than a “dangerous distraction and a full-on jackboot takeover” of Queensland’s public electricity assets.

ETU QLD NT state secretary Peter Ong said the LNP is addicted to asset sales and “Morrison said as much back in 2016 when he heralded the NSW Liberals electricity privitisation plan as a way of reducing power prices”.

“Guess what, Queensland’s electricity prices are lower than NSW, South Australia and Victoria, because NSW, Victoria and South Australia all have privatised or partially privatised networks,” Mr Ong said.

“This latest outrageous attempt to totally disenfranchise Queensland voters, is merely a distraction from the main game, this dysfunctional Government has given up on any semblance of unity and are now intent on saving the furniture, now they want to sell ours.

“The Federal Government is behaving like a North Korean dictator, running roughshod over Queensland voters who have overwhelmingly rejected assets sales and privatisation for the last three state elections,”

News of the bill flopping in parliament broke yesterday when 20 members of the Liberal Party’s backbench forced the brains trust of the Bill – Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Energy Minister Angus Taylor to amend key components of it.

Divestiture powers will remain in the legislation, but instead of being enforceable by the treasurer, the treasurer will have to apply to the courts.

Divestment proceedings would be triggered if misconduct was to be found by the ACCC, with court-ordered civil penalties of up to $10 million.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison originally introduced forced divestment powers under his Big Stick policy, which aims to put pressure on energy retailers to drive down prices for consumers.

Mr Ong says the ETU would be the first to sit around the table in a productive dialogue if the LNP were “fair dinkum” about ways to bring electricity prices down, “but they aren’t”.

“Instead they rely on old failed technologies and old failed ideologies,” Mr Ong said.

“If they want to get fair dinkum about sustainable energy policy, they should publicly abandon their addiction to privatisation and instead push for public ownership of all electricity assets and embrace a renewable energy future.

“Any push for privatisation either overtly or covertly will be met with the full force of the ETU.”

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