Return privatised public assets to public hands, say Victorian Socialists

Major energy companies are making record profits and privatisation has helped.

Victorian Socialists released this on November 1.

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Back in the 1990s, we were told the privatisation of electricity and other basic services would mean consumers get a better deal. Today, we know that was a lie.

Privatisation has always been about boosting the profits of big business and the wealth of the super-rich at a cost to the community. And now we have the proof.

Research by the Australia Institute found that the cost of electricity has increased by triple the overall increase in prices since the mid 1990s. It estimates that privatisation has cost each household between $404 and $502 a year.

Another report by the Grattan Institute found that since the early 2000s, the price paid for electricity by consumers has risen much faster than the wholesale price, and that the profit margins of electricity retailers are more than double those for comparable sectors of the economy.

Major energy companies are making record profits. Meanwhile, the Essential Services Commission’s 2016-17 report found that 80,000 customers were on financial hardship programs and 50,000 households per year had services disconnected for non-payment.

The Daniel Andrews’ government’s $50 incentive to visit an energy comparison website is a joke. We should accept nothing short of taking the utility companies back into public hands.

Bringing privatised assets into public ownership would cut out all the profit-taking corporations and reduce prices. It would also mean that any surplus revenue could be re-invested in the system, for example to help drive the shift to renewable energy, instead of being siphoned off into the hands of investors or to offshore tax havens.

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