Privatisation and WA's power shortages (letter)by Clem ClarkeNews Weekly
, March 13, 2004
Recently, Perth suffered from a major power shortfall, and the degree of discomfort for all West Australians was apparent. It is interesting to note that the only part of the Western Power system that failed was the privatised part - the gas supply.
All over Australia, power shortages are occurring.
Breaking up Western Power will only make the situation worse - you need all the parts of that giant machine to work co-operatively for the maximum efficiency.
Imagine trying to build a bridge if all the workmen competed against each other and did not co-operate?
In my home state of Victoria, where the electricity industry has been privatised, the power lines to many country areas are operating at near capacity.
One simple solution is to stagger the starting time for water heaters to reduce the peak load.
However, it is not in the interests of the country power line owners to do this - more profit is to be made by building new lines and charging more money! Once you have the accountants running a business to maximise profits to the shareholders, service will suffer, and prices will go up (although sellers of petrol generators are very happy).
Perth is one of the most wonderful cities I have lived in, with smiling happy people. Compared with other places, people co-operate to make Perth a better place to live in - for example, free buses in the city, a railway system that works, excellent (free) freeways, and a city that, generally speaking, is built for people.
There is plenty for all especially if the Government takes back the money-creating role to the Reserve Bank, and creates money sensibly for the common good of all Australians, and refuses to follow the IMF Structured Adjustment Policies, which force governments all over the world to sell utilities such as Telstra, Western Power and so on, so that private companies can gain unfairly from the citizens.
To fix the power problems so that there is extra capacity for peak loads is simple - extra power generation.
If the generator sits there unused for a large amount of time, so what?
If you want to see how awful a fully privatised, competitive society is, look at America. Over there, the "working poor" have full time jobs, yet still cannot afford to rent a flat. They have frequent power brownouts, and so on. The American system is under huge stress, and the people with it.
Instead, get your governments to take back control so they can do what they should be doing - making life the very best they possibly can for the common good of the people, which obviously includes excellent hospitals and schools. There is enough for all.Clem Clarke,