Tuesday, 20 April 2004
The privatisation of South Australia's electricity services has been described as a "monumental failure", and radical action is required to prevent prices from further spiralling, according to experts in the lead-up to a Public Forum at the University of Adelaide tonight.
The Forum, called The Electricity Crisis: What Can Be Done?, is organised by the Don Dunstan Foundation. It will be held at 6pm in Elder Hall.
"The privatisation of South Australia's electricity industry has proven to be a monumental failure, creating unnecessary hardship for thousands of South Australians while failing to address the environmental challenges we face," says Mr John Spoehr, Executive Director of the University's Centre for Labour Research and Chair of tonight's event.
He says action such as the introduction of price caps, the abolition of GST on essential services, and government involvement in generation and distribution may be the only ways to control spiralling electricity prices in the future.
"Our analysis indicates that the privatisation of ETSA has not only fuelled spiralling prices, but denied the State Budget the substantial dividends that would have flowed from ETSA to help fund education, health and other services.
"Professor John Quiggin from the University of Queensland and I have estimated that the total loss of income from privatisation to South Australians is likely to be around $3 billion over 10 years.
"There seems no choice but to consider the introduction of radical measures to ensure that the electricity industry responds to pressing social and environmental imperatives," Mr Spoehr says.
Consumer advocate and forum panelist Rosalyn Williams has called on governments to recognise that, "a basic supply or affordable electricity should be a humanitarian right of all Australians".
"A growing number of low income families are sacrificing essentials such as food or medication to try to avoid disconnection or late payment fees," she says.
WHAT: Public Forum: The Electricity Crisis: What Can Be Done?
WHERE: Elder Hall, University of Adelaide, North Terrace Campus
WHEN: 6pm TONIGHT, Tuesday, April 20
COST: Gold coin donation
SPEAKERS: Professor John Quiggin (Professor of Economics, University of Queensland), Rosalyn Williams (ACOSS representative on the Origin Energy Board) and Lew Owens (Chairperson, Essential Services Commission SA)