Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s announcement that her government plans to sell off public assets including rail, ports, forests & roads is an outrage that has rightly angered workers, unions, pensioners and the Queensland public in general.
Your browser may not support display of this image.We all know that privatisation means workers being sacked, higher prices, and worse services – all in the name of profits for a few. This is exactly our experience with Queensland energy privatisation, Telstra & the Commonwealth Bank. Far from solving ¨budget challenges¨, revenues that previously went to public uses such as hospitals and schools instead flow to corporate bottom lines. And once privatisation is used as a means of ¨balancing the budget¨, it is a slippery slope for more sell-offs in future years.
The Economic Crisis: an argument for more public, not private, ownership
Bligh´s argument that the global financial crisis means she has no choice but privatisation is rubbish. While stating that she´s not “a Wall Street banker” that caused the crisis, but has to deal with it, her sell-off would hand over more assets to the very ¨Wall Street banker¨ forces that have caused the crisis!
And what is the crucial motive that justifies serious harm to workers and communities? Getting back Queensland´s ¨AAA¨ rating from Moody´s - the same Moody´s which has been complicit in the financial crisis! There is nothing sacred about ´AAA´ - even sections of NSW business criticize that State´s obsession with a AAA rating.
Rather than sacrificing communities to privatisations, we need to fight for the expansion of the public sector, in order to create a sustainable Queensland, moving to renewable energy as quickly as possible and radically expanded public transport.
Democracy? We never voted for privatisation!
Queenslanders are clearly opposed to the Bligh Government plan. Even Bligh´s own ALP branch in South Brisbane has voted for her expulsion from the party! Such moves are to be congratulated and should be repeated across the state and at the ALP Conference.
Yet it is clear that Bligh will ignore both her own party and the Queensland people - if she can get away with it.
How can we stop the sell-off?
Even if the ALP State Conference rejects the plan – which it should – the Government will try to ignore the conference decision. What is needed is a massive campaign that mobilizes the enormous opposition to the sell-off, and makes it impossible for the Government to implement their plan.
Such a campaign would include public protests to demonstrate the level of opposition, plus serious industrial action against any privatisation attempts. To build such a campaign we need a union-community alliance that involves all those opposed to privatisation.
The campaign in NSW against electricity privatisation, which brought down Premier Morris Iemma and has forced a partial backdown, shows what is possible.
The Queensland Council of Unions rally outside the ALP conference to show our opposition is a great start - but it´s only the start. A further step would be a mass rally and industrial action on June 16, the day of the state budget. This would send a strong message to the Government of what is coming if it persists with the privatisations. If they don´t back down, Bligh should meet the same fate as Iemma.
Our campaign must continue until the Bligh Government plan is shelved completely - we need to kill off all privatisation.
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