WA Liberal Voters Oppose Western Power Sale
Almost half of Liberal voters in WA Treasurer Mike Nahan's safe seat of Riverton are opposed to the proposed privatisation of utility Western Power, according to ReachTel data.
The sale is the centrepiece of the Barnett government's asset sales plan as it strives to fix its ailing finances, and was initially expected to fetch $15 billion but expectations were revised downwards to $12 billion at the state budget in May.
Premier Colin Barnett was initially opposed to the sale but Dr Nahan convinced him of the financial necessity, although he said July that public support was essential.
About 1000 people in the southern suburbs seat were canvassed last month, with 49.35 per cent of respondents who said they would vote Liberal at the March state election saying they were against privatising the electricity poles and wires operator.
Only 21.41 per cent supported it while 29.24 per cent were undecided.
"There is no doubt that the Liberal Party's plan to sell Western Power is not supported by the community, even in Dr Nahan's own electorate," opposition energy spokesman Bill Johnston told AAP on Monday.
Among Labor voters canvassed by ReachTel, 77.7 per cent were against the transaction.
Labor says the sale is a one-off, short-term ‘sugar hit’ that will deny the state recurrent income.
Western Power's recently released 2016 annual report shows it paid $400.9 million in dividends to the state government during the year to June 30.
Mr Johnston said the plan was against the interests of the state economy and was clearly opposed by the community.
"It's a bad idea, and that's why WA Labor is opposed to it," he said.
Dr Nahan said on Monday the state government was finalising the privatisation options.
"We'll go through a whole range of issues in the next few weeks. We will enunciate the approach that we're going to take to the transaction," he said.
Labor leader Mark McGowan told a business forum last week that selling off monopoly assets was always fraught with danger.
"The one thing worse than a public monopoly is a private monopoly," Mr McGowan said at the time.
The proposal is being fiercely fought by the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Services Union, which cite Victoria's deadly Black Saturday bushfires as an example of why such important infrastructure should not be placed into private hands.