I have consistently opposed the privatisation of public assets which provide nothing more than an immediate windfall for the government of the day.
In recent years we have seen the Labor State Government sell off NSW Lotteries and the electricity retailers, and we have seen the Coalition State Government sell off all or part of Sydney Ferries, the State’s electricity poles and wires, Eraring and Vales Point power stations, ports in Newcastle, Botany and Port Kembla, the lands and property registry, and Newcastle Buses. They have more in their sights. I have opposed the sale of every one of them.
In a 2016 survey of people in my electorate, privatisation ranked very highly among their concerns. People did not want their poles and wires sold off, they do not want their health services privatised and they do not want their prisons privatised. They do not want any further erosion of public assets.
There may be cases where some government operations are better off in the hands of a private operator, but I am yet to see one that delivers a better long-term outcome for the people of NSW.
I was at the forefront of debate against the privatisation of electricity assets, despite the billions of dollars raised going into new infrastructure projects. Both Labor and Coalition governments have continued down the path of privatising the state’s electricity assets which I believe will result in higher energy costs and is not in the best interests of the people of NSW. Regular polls show that 70 per cent of people opposed this privatisation, so it is highly concerning that the major parties have continued with their privatisation agendas.
Of the billions of dollars being raised through the sale of the State’s poles and wires, very little will benefit Lake Macquarie with the vast majority of the proceeds flowing into Sydney.
I believe it would have been a far better option for governments to borrow against the electricity assets to fund vital infrastructure projects, as opposed to selling them off and squandering the generous dividends they return to State coffers every year.
I, along with the Public Service Association, spearheaded the recent campaign to stop the State Government selling off the management of the State’s 11 sport and recreation centres, including those at Myuna Bay and Point Wolstoncroft. These local centres actually made money and were not a burden on taxpayers. They have provided quality outdoor education to children and adults for more than 60 years. Ultimately, in late 2016, the government backflipped on its plan and our campaign was a success, but the plan should never have been considered in the first place.
I firmly believe that one of two things happen when existing government assets are privatised – service levels go down, or the costs to users goes up.
I do not want to see public assets frittered away to fill the budgetary holes that seem to trouble every State Government. It is short-term gain for long-term pain and I will continue to oppose it at every opportunity.