Union fights agains privatisation of energy networks

A CALL to privatise the nation's electricity networks was met with fierce opposition from the Electrical Trades Union on Thursday.

The Productivity Commission released its report recommending major changes to the national electricity market to help drive down consumer costs on Thursday.

Among more than 50 recommendations, the commission said privatising the largely state-owned transmission networks, as well as a national consumer body, were essential moves to improve the cost of power.

While private industry largely welcomed the report, the ETU was not happy and was seeking a meeting with the government to discuss the report.

Union national assistant secretary Allen Hicks said the commission had recommended "neglecting infrastructure assets in order to save money", when the report made no such recommendation.

"The hard numbers also show, categorically, there is no link between states with privatised assets and lower power costs.

In fact the state with the highest residential power costs is South Australia, which privatised its power assets more than a decade ago.

Energy Supply Association of Australia chief executive Matthew Warren said the report highlighted the "impact of political interference" in the energy market.

He said it put both state and federal government "on notice" to finish reforming the energy market - changes which began in the 1990s in some sectors.

Mr Warren said informed debate about how to deliver efficient regulation of networks was needed.

He also noted the commission did not blame network businesses for current inefficiencies in networks which have contributed to rising energy prices.

"As the Commission pointed out, networks are mostly responding to regulatory structures and incentives that impede their efficiency," Mr Warren said.



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