23/01/2017 - 14:54

Sims hits back on union Western Power campaign

23/01/2017 - 14:54

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Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has written to the local branches of two trade unions, saying they misrepresented his views on the float of Western Power in a recent advertisement campaign.

Sims hits back on union Western Power campaign
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said his comments had been misrepresented.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has written to the local branches of two trade unions, saying they misrepresented his views on the float of Western Power in a recent advertisement campaign.

In a letter to the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Services Union today, Mr Sims said he was on the record arguing that electricity prices would go down if Western Power was privatised and run efficiently.

“I am writing to you as a courtesy should you not be fully aware of my public comments and views on the sale of Western Power,” Mr Sims said in the letter.

“I will continue to make public comments contradicting your advertisements if you continue to run them, as I believe you are misrepresenting my views.”

The advertisements included an excerpt from a speech to the Melbourne Economic Forum in July last year, which Mr Sims said was out of context and wholly unrelated to the state government’s move to float half of Western Power.

He said his comments in that address had been made in the context of monopoly assets privatised without sufficient regulation in place, which could lead to prices increasing.

But when done well, privatisations brought considerable benefit, Mr Sims said.

“However, in the case of Western Power, there is regulation in place that prevents this occurring,” he said.

Western Power is regulated by the a number of state government bodies, including the Economic Regulation Authority, although legislation has been planned to transfer that power to the federal Australian Energy Regulator.

ASU state secretary Wayne Wood and ETU state secretary Les McLaughlan have not yet replied to a Business News request for comment.

Treasurer Mike Nahan called for the advertisements to be withdrawn.

"Mark McGowan and his union mates have been caught out deceiving West Australians by repeatedly saying that electricity prices will go up as a result of the partial sale of Western Power," Dr Nahan said. 

"Mark McGowan needs to direct his union mates to immediately pull these advertisements given ACCC chair Rod Sims has today said his comments are being misrepresented in them. 

"Mr Sims said he actually believes electricity prices are more likely to go down under a partly privatised Western Power, because the sale would take place in a highly regulated environment.

"Labor and the unions’ claims that electricity bills will increase as a result of the proposed 51% public float of Western Power are false, baseless, misleading and blatant scaremongering."

Update: The ETU and ASU have said they will cease using Mr Sims' comments in broadcast advertising, although Mr Wood has said the two unions had a "difference of opinion" over the meaning of Mr Sims' quotes.

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