Mark Barnaba (left), Deidre Willmott and Colin Barnett with Business News coloumnist Peter Kennedy this morning. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Barnett inches towards network sale

The impact on economic development and power prices from a sale of the state’s electricity network could be managed by a strong regulatory framework, Premier Colin Barnett said today, as he continued to reassess his view on the ownership of Western Power.


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I don't think a comparison with Victoria's network is fair. They are being forced by the national regulator to spend millions of dollars on the network after killing 153 people in bush fires that were caused due to lack of maintenance. Cost only remain low for a short time and then the lack of maintenance increases risk to the point you loose control. It is inevitable that the electricity tariff needs to increase to pay for any major event that occurs. Victoria's bush fires cost the community around $2 billion not including the additional $700 million they are now forced to spend on bush fire mitigation. But at the time the sale would have looked like a good idea and for a short time electricity tariffs were down. I think that utility companies should be left alone and not used as political footballs. The engineers know what needs to be spent on the network and when. Don't try to artificially drive down costs as you are just delaying the inevitable with potentially catastrophic consequences.

It isn't "artificially" driving down costs - the evidence says government ownership is actually artificially driving up costs and it's to the expense of the average consumer. Western Power has been involved in bushfires and maintenance issues here in WA, so it's very clear that it has little to do with private or public provision. With the government's current debt level, how can they afford to borrow for maintenance? The asset is less risky in private hands.

We are selling a MONOPOLY in the poles a wires and Dierdre bloody Willmott knows that all the regulations from government mean diddly-squat without proper competition from the private sector. Who's going to put in another power distribution system in the Perth metro area? Oh, that's right you twits have magic wands and can make competition appear where there was none before. For what? Lower wages for the workers? Less maintenance to keep costs down? More Bush fires to destroy peoples lives who have no way to rebuild them. Bigger bonuses for the directors when they show they have manipulated the stock price to an all time high/low, it doesn't seem to matter, because the bonuses just keep on rolling in for the cretins of industry? What about we destroy the bargaining power of the unions in the process of the sale and then we can REALLY have a party at the proles expense? Then the new owner of our electricity supply can say to the government, " I know we said we'd keep prices down to such and such, but if we do then these things wont happen.........and that means you will look even worse in the polls....HA, HA, HA! DO AS WE SAY! WE RUN THIS TOWN AND ALWAYS DID!! What about the enormous mount of money you are lavished with by your sponsors, Dierdre Willmott? I can see that you are well trained to roll over and encourage us all to play dead. Your efficiency means lower wages and higher workload for the average member of the working class and it is a CON! It is not more efficient to ME to work harder and for longer and for less. It just makes people like you RICHER and MORE POWERFUL!! You all disgust me you're so flat-out evil in your patent disregard for human life!

This shouldn't be an emotional issue - why do you oppose lower prices for consumers or businesses? It will make WA families like mine better off because waste will be eliminated. How is the state government going to pay for maintenance with the current debt level?

Why can't the government maintain the asset and sell the use of the infrastructure to the private sector at a set cost. You complain about debt levels. Given that money is always borrow at a % interest if the government doesn't have any assets to make money the debt can only be paid back via higher taxes. A government that sells it's assets and thus it's ability to obtain income, can only taxes it's citizens, which again targets the working class as the rich and corporations have shown that there is always a loop hole. Keep the asset and rent it out! Please...

The government would sell the asset and use the funds to repay debt - pretty simple stuff really. That would mean less interest paid on the debt because it gets paid off immediately. So in fact it means lower taxes.

The windfall from the sale of assets may be in all or part employed to help the government of the day get re-elected. i.e. to fund election promises, so the sale of assets does not necessarily mean lower taxes. Political biased towards self preservation means there is an incentive to promise big in an election year, thus temptation to employ funds from asset sales to get the government re-elected is likely to dominate.

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Total revenue

3rd↑Water Corporation$2.55bn
5th-Western Power$1.78bn
6th-Western Australian Treasury Corporation$1.54bn
29 state government businesses ranked by total revenue - this year

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