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Today's quote:

Friday, March 2, 2018

Snakes and ladders, poles and wires


You sell us your prized assets on the cheap. If we make money out of them, we keep them. If we lose money, you bail us out. It's called privatisation, stupid!"

And so they did, both Federal and State governments. Prized assets, built with taxpayers' money, were sold off, either in public floats back to the same taxpayers who already owned them (Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, QANTAS, GIO, Medibank Private), or in secretive 'commercial-in-confidence' deals (Sydney Airport, Darwin Port, hospitals and prisons, electricity and gas generators and distributors) to vulture funds here and in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Qatar, China and elsewhere).

The outcome? Predictable! My latest electricity bill for the low-usage three summer months of December through to February is $371.72. Of this, $141.01 (or $1.60 a day) is not for electricity used but for "Supply Charges", i.e. poles and wires. The year prior to privatisation the daily "supply charge" was 20.35 cents. That's an annual increase of $510.00!

Oh yes, there were "safeguards": secretive as the deals were, it became known that the profits of poles and wires distributors were limited to a percentage (well above bank interest rates) of their capital expenditure on poles and wires. So what did they do? They 'gold-plated' them and we were hit with the costs! From $74 a year to $584 a year!

Perhaps we should privatise our politicians. We wouldn't get much for them - methinks, we would have to pay someone to take them off our hands - but at least we would be rid of them. Any takers?