ETU Media Releases

With increasingly reliable political leaks suggesting Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit will recommend privatising a raft of public assets — including the highly-profitable Australian icon Snowy Hydro — local MPs Peter Hendy and John Barilaro have been called upon to publicly rule out any planned sale by their respective governments.

The Electrical Trades Union’s privatisation concerns — which were labelled a ‘scare campaign’ by Mr Hendy and others when first raised in late 2012 — rapidly appear to be turning into a very real nightmare for the local community and the almost one thousand employees who rely on Snowy Hydro for their livelihoods.

Prior to the 2013 Federal Election, Mr Hendy told the community that they had nothing to worry about when it came to Snowy Hydro, but the ETU said it is looking increasingly likely that Mr Hendy may have deceived local residents with those statements.

Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake today called on both local politicians to categorically rule out any privatisation of Snowy Hydro.

“Power industry unions first raised fears that Snowy Hydro would be privatised more than a year ago, with certain local identities dismissing it as a union scare campaign,” Mr Kerslake said.

“But since the election, privatisation rumours and speculation has reached a fever pitch, with power industry unions concerned that they are about to turn into a very real nightmare for local businesses and the community.

“The big threat for a town like Cooma is that any buyer, most likely a foreign company or government, will already have an established head office elsewhere, meaning up to 200 high quality head office jobs in Cooma would be lost overnight.

“This doesn’t take into account other operational areas, which could take total job losses for the region to in excess of 500, with negative flow-on effects for the entire community, in particular local businesses.

“For every 13 jobs taken out of Cooma, $1 million is lost from the local economy, so local businesses and other sectors such as real estate will undoubtedly be impacted.

“We have had zero guarantees from local MPs Peter Hendy and John Barilaro, who seem content to sit on their hands and simply allow a Snowy Hydro sale to happen.”

Mr Kerslake said it was time for local members of parliament to respond to the wishes of the local community by pledging to take a public stand against the potential privatisation within their respective governments.

“Peter Hendy and John Barilaro must categorically rule out any privatisation of Snowy Hydro,” Mr Kerslake said.

“If they can’t do that, they must explain to the community why they are not willing to stand up and represent the people that elected them.

“We also want to know exactly what representations Peter Hendy has made to the Prime Minister, Treasurer or the Commission of Audit on behalf of the local community opposing the privatisation of Snowy Hydro, and if there have been no representations, then why not?

“Given Snowy Hydro is publicly owned by the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian Governments, we are today calling on all three to clearly outline their future plans for this important piece of national infrastructure.”