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Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

Vital public assets should never be sold off

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Australia is endowed with massive open-cut coalfields and produces the cheapest electricity on Earth. Yet we are charged the second highest cost for electricity in the OECD (as much as Germany, which is using the higher charges to roll out renewable energy).

The NSW Baird government is about to sell-off the infrastructure required to deliver electricity – our ‘poles and wires’. To do this, they fatten up the cost of electricity, to inflate the selling price and make it more ‘attractive’ to a buyer.

So for a fistful of dollars (which gets swallowed up in consolidated revenue) we loose this vital public owned
and paid for infrastructure; and our children’s children go on paying some faceless, foreign owned
consortium forever. This is what just brought down the LNP in Queensland.

This selling of public owned assets to private corporations has been bi-partisan government policy since the 1980s, as if it is manifest destiny.

It has been deliberate global policy since the Washington Consensus in the 1970s, when free-marketeers decided the public shouldn’t own infrastructure and it should all be privatised; and little Australia has dutifully obeyed its colonial masters ever since. Of course, using transfer pricing and other accounting magic, foreign corporations end up paying relatively little tax in Australia.

So after selling off all public owned assets, the only way for governments to raise revenue is regressive
taxes and charges (‘Regressive’ means the taxes hit the poor proportionally, much worse than the rich.

Like GST, petrol excise, tobacco tax, grog and gambling, road tolls, etc). It shouldn’t come as any surprise to see the GST rise to 15 per cent soon.

When Sydney Airport was sold, the cost of using the airport rose over 500 per cent in a week, and access to the
airport railway stations today costs another $13. It costs over $30 in road, bridge and tunnel fees to drive across Sydney.

Public owned vital monopolies like roads, airports, water and power utilities, health and public education and electricity poles and wires should never be privatised.

There are trade agreements being secretly negotiated right now designed to carry on these policies, which will continue to funnel more wealth to fewer people, erode the middle class and create a serfdom of working poor.  It is important to know what our government and corporate leaders are consigning us to.

Currently, the GREENS offer the only intelligent, progressive and humanitarian vision for Australia. LABOR needs to reclaim their heartland and re-embrace
true social democracy (like the four Scandinavian countries). What we cannot afford is to go on selling our few remaining assets and wonder why we’re all so poor.

Michael Balson, Upper Wilsons Creek


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