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NSW electricity sell-off: let the people decide, let Unions NSW prepare industrial action

“If Morris Iemma is so confident that electricity privatisation represents the best interests of the people of New South Wales, let him put it to a referendum”, Dick Nichols, National Coordinator of the Socialist Alliance said today.

Nichols was commenting on the New South Wales premier’s decision to ignore the 702-107 vote by the weekend ALP state conference against his government’s planned sell-off of electricity.

“Iemma and his backers like Paul Keating claim that the ALP conference was unrepresentative, because it was dominated by trade unionists (‘lemmings’ according to the former prime minister). So let’s have a public debate and decision on the pros and cons of his sell-off plan”, Nichols said.

The Alliance spokesperson said he was completely confident that such a debate would see a NSW-wide repeat of the ALP conference result.

“What Iemma and treasurer Michael Costa have to grasp is that people are not ignorant sheep who have to have the benefits of electricity privatisation explained to them by all-wise politicos ancient and modern in words of one syllable.

“The ALP conference debate showed that the delegates, both from the unions and the party branches, actually understood the arguments for electricity privatisation.

“But they knew enough to see right through the Costa-Iemma line that ‘you can have public spending on electricity generation or on public services but you can’t have both’. Even union delegations pledged to support Iemma (and personally lined up for him by Keating) deserted the premier after the debate.”

Nichols added that the decision of premier’s office to publish full-page advertisements in support of the sell-off in today’s Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald showed the government’s growing desperation, and the need for the union movement to organise industrial action and ongoing protest against it.

He concluded: “Unions NSW must commit to organise total union resistance to the sell-off, starting with an industrial campaign of complete non-cooperation with government privatisation plans.

“The whole union movement has to be organised to take whatever action is necessary to win.”

For interviews contact: Dick Nichols 02 9690 2508

Also see: ‘Stop the Sell-off: The case against electricity privatisation in New South Wales

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