Costa target of anti-privatisation rally


On April 18, 400 people rallied outside the Newcastle office of NSW treasurer Michael Costa to demand that the state Labor government reverse its decision to privatise NSW's electricity infrastructure.

Attending the rally were contingents from the Electrical Trades Union, which had called the rally, and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. Also attending were members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, the Public Sector Association, the meatworkers union, the Greens, Socialist Alliance, Rising Tide and the Newcastle University Students Association.

Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Gary Kennedy, who chaired the rally, told the protesters that Premier Morris Iemma's government should abide by the resolution on privatisation adopted at the state ALP conference on May 3. The delegates are widely expected to adopt a resolution against the government's electricity privatisation plan.

Unions NSW assistant secretary Mark Lennon called on Costa to "have the courage" to acknowledge that the proposed privatisation was highly unpopular and to abandon it.

Kennedy warned that the members of the unions covering electricity generation would not hesitate to wage a campaign of industrial action to prevent the industry's privatisation if the government ignored the state conference decision. He said that such a campaign would receive the full support of Newcastle Trades Hall Council.

It was announced that the next protest rallies would be at the offices of state Labor MPs Jodi McKay and Frank Terenzini, on April 28 and April 30 respectively. A thick stack of anti-privatisation petitions was presented to one of Costa's staff workers at the end of the rally.

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