Eric Ripper

Eric Ripper

Deputy Premier; Treasurer; Minister for State Development

    Barnett's love that dare not speak its name

    21/01/2005 12:49 PM

    The Leader of the Opposition’s pre-election attempt to downplay his passion for privatisation is as unbelievable as it is ambiguous.

    Treasurer Eric Ripper said Mr Barnett’s claim that the Coalition has ‘no plans to privatise’ is strikingly similar to the weasel words the Liberals used before the 1996 election:
        ‘There are no plans to privatise Western Power or AlintaGas.’
        October 22, 1996, Legislative Council.

    “Soon after the 1996 election, Mr Barnett drew up plans to privatise AlintaGas and the Dampier-to-Bunbury natural gas pipeline,” Mr Ripper said.

    “Within 15 months of the election, he also commissioned a secret report into the privatisation of Western Power.

    “The Court government sold $4.8billion in State services while in power and Mr Barnett was one of the worst offenders. The public will not be fooled a second time. Mr Barnett cannot be trusted not to sell the family silver.”

    The Treasurer said Mr Barnett had been caught out in 2004 trying to cover up his role in the commissioning of a report by Macquarie Corporate Finance into the privatisation of Western Power. The report was called ‘Pathways to Privatisation’.

    “When the report came to light in 2004, Mr Barnett tried to brush it off as something Western Power had done without reference to him,” Mr Ripper said.

    “On March 10, 2004, Mr Barnett admitted on Paul Murray’s program on 6PR that he did in fact discuss the matter with former Western Power managing director David Eiszele, but said:
        ‘It never went any further than that . . .’
    “However, it went a lot further.”

    The minutes of a meeting between Mr Barnett and Mr Eiszele, dated February 20, 1998, say:
        ‘Minister confirmed he is happy for Western Power to pursue work internally using consultants . . . when Macquarie Bank report is available, WP will prepare draft process and timetable for implementation.’
    The Treasurer said Mr Barnett had long held plans to privatise Government power stations - effectively selling Western Power from the ground up.

    “Mr Barnett is an old Thatcherite - privatisation is the only thing he knows how to do,” he said.

    “He cannot manage a Budget, as was shown by the string of blowouts in the education portfolio when he was Minister.

    “With hundreds of unfunded promises and no financial plan, Western Australians have every reason to believe he will privatise to try and balance the books, if given the chance.”

    Treasurer's office: 9222 8788