Melbourne rally against privatisation
By Alana Kerr
MELBOURNE — Ten thousand people rallied on June 26 against the state government's plans to privatise Victoria's gas, water and electricity utilities.
The rally and march, organised by a group of community activists called Public First, was well supported by other community groups including Save Albert Park, the Trade Union Choir, church groups, trade unions, environment groups, the Democratic Socialist Party and the youth organisation Resistance.
Organisers called for a referendum on the sale of public utilities and highlighted the implications of privatisation, including the loss of community control over services and the possibility of price rises.
Addressing the rally, the secretary of Trades Hall Council, Leigh Hubbard, stated that 90% of Victorians were against the sale of public utilities to foreign firms, and stressed the lack of public consultation which has become a trade mark of the Kennett government.
Tricia Caswell, director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said that private ownership would bring a lack of accountability for utilities. Privatisation meant giving away a community service and control over our natural environment.
Other issues raised by speakers were access to water and power utilities as basic human rights and the disastrous effects of similar privatisation schemes carried out in Britain.