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Although WA Labor, mostly female, candidates have been active in the last three months in Northern suburbs, the most important theme of its campaign will be unveiled this Sunday in Carramar during the Use Your Power town hall meeting.
Western Australia Labor Party utilises social media, traditional knocking at the door tactics, shopping centers talks, billboards and the unions protests hoping to build up momentum to mount energetic and effective electoral campaign at short notice. In order to appeal to the grievances of specific sectors of the electorate Labor runs on at least three separate platforms: promise to build railway to Ellenbrook, Urgent Care Clinics and protest against privatization of any Western Australian assets. The campaigns of local politicians more or less focus on these three issues offering also optional solutions for minor issues in the area.
The most important element of the campaign not very often mentioned on the official party’s communication channels is a protest against the privatisation of the Western Power.
The importance of this campaign for WA Labor confirms the fact that probably the most emotional statement of the party, during this elections, was reserved for expression of strong opposition against privatisation of Western Power. Speaking in semi-romantic and semi-poetic language Mr Mark McGowan promised leaving the Western Power under the control of the state government.
“We will not sell off Western Power, we will write that in blood.” – Mr McGowan said.
He explained that neither Western Power or other assets will be sold “under no circumstances” and “that is a core, iron-clad, non-negotiable commitment”.
Labor in its campaign quotes Rod Sims’s, the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission opinion who said that those who claim that the privatisation boosts the prices are right. While the price increase may be temporary until the economic condition will improve, the costs of state management will be cut off improving fiscal situation in Western Australia.
Labor Party did not present any economic evidence that would prove that Western Australia economy would benefit on the long run leaving the energy production state giant under the control of state government.
The strategic importance of the campaign against privatisation of Western Power for WA Labor confirms the fact that probably the most emotional statement of the party during this elections was reserved for this issue.
In September during the town hall meeting in Jandakot intended to mobilise opposition against privatisation Shadow Minister Bill Johnston claimed that state government-run company is more economically efficient than privately owned. Mr Johnston mentioned that his conclusion was based on his comparison of costs already privatised assets with Western Power although he did not present details. Perth Herald Tribune request sent to his office to clarify his statement left unanswered.
The Use Your Power campaign authors expressed on their website their fear that next private owner may drop subsidy of $136 million to the cost of producing and distributing power in regional areas. “Under the current system Western Power contributes to the Tariff Equalisation Fund”, the website authors stated.
It is understandable that facing necessity to recapitalise and modernise the Western Power new management may renegotiate or cancel such an enormous financial obligation. The unions anti-privatisation campaign suggested the state government will automatically provide the funding from the budget cutting expenses on health and education despite the fact that Premier Barnett’s cabinet never publicly discussed such solution.
Premier Colin Barnett has said the utility will only be sold if there is strong public support, while the Nationals have also expressed reservations.
“My job, if we do go down that path, I’ve got to get public support and at the moment I don’t think that is there, but I’ll be talking to people face to face over the next few months about that”, Premier Barnett said.
Although an emotional argument of the campaign the most clearly visible in a risky suggestion that effect of privatisation will be… increased threat of bushfires may win during this election, it can also leave unrepairable damage for the party that has to rely on such populistic campaign.
In the uncertain times for global economy both parties Liberals and Labor must understand that the privatisation of the public assets and economic policy should be non-partisan issue.
Newly acquired intelligent voters may reconsider their support for WA Labor realising that the party has not substantial offers except emotional statements as well as logically and intellectually risky conclusions.
WA Labor should rethink its stance on privatisation of Western Australia government owned companies because countercyclical fiscal reality and depressionary global condition will preclude indebted state access to short-term capital.
In such uncertain times for global economy both parties Liberals and Labor must understand that the privatisation of the public assets and economic policy should be non-partisan issue.
Western Australia more than argument on the issue of privatisation needs innovative financial solutions based on the widespread ownership of assets financed from future savings for building up the economic independence of all the residents-citizens of the state.