MPs quit union over anti-privatisation campaign

Issue 

Rail commuters are the latest victims of the Anna Bligh state Labor government's asset sale madness.

On January 4, passenger ticket fares rose 40% and Go Card fares rose 20%.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) said on January 7 the increases were to make up for revenue lost because of the sale of Queensland Rail's profitable divisions.

ETU secretary, Peter Simpson, said price increases would continue over the next few years as the state government scrambles to fund passenger services that are traditionally supported by profits from the freight divisions.

"It is exactly the same as what occurred in the retail electricity market. Since it was privatised electricity prices have escalated dramatically. Now, rail fares are doing the same thing", he said.

Tensions have continued to increase between the union and the state Labor government over Bligh's plan to privatise several government assets.

The ETU's campaign against privatisation has led to two state Labor MPs —Townsville member Mandy Johnstone and Steve Wettenhall from the far north seat of Barron River — resigning from the union.

ETU Far-North Queensland organiser Stuart Traill told the ABC on January 18 that Wettenhall would not be in power now if it wasn't for the resources provided to him by the ETU.

"The ETU's position is good riddance … because as I've said before, this union, his union, has given him significant resources."

Traill was reported by Cairns Blog.net as saying the polling by the ETU had consistently showed that 80%-90% of Queenslanders oppose privatisation.

"This is due to failed previous examples that have seen a reduction in maintenance, loss of jobs, loss of services at an increased cost to the consumers, all in the name of returning a dividend to the shareholders.

"The ETU will escalate the campaign for as long as it takes to ensure that we as a region get a voice in decisions that are made in Brisbane instead of us being continually dictated to by an out of touch and arrogant government."

Two other Labor MPs are also ETU members — Cook MP Jason O'Brien, and police minister Neil Roberts.

Reading Green Left online is free but producing it isn't

Green Left aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. We rely on regular support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get Green Left in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the paper delivered to your door.