Rant: AusGrid – Shooting the messenger

If you are the million dollar manager of a public utility who is likely to earn millions more in a privatised utility you’d think your first order of business would be to get your business in good shape for privatisation, reduce costs and make sure you don’t run into any bad publicity.

Not, however, if you are Vince Graham, CEO of AusGrid who thinks that he is paid a million dollars to waste taxpayers money on stifling public debate and suppressing a democratic process that goes back almost a century.

Having spent years ripping dollars out electricity consumers with rampant gold-plating of the network, Vince, now has his hands deep in the taxpayers pockets again paying private contractors to take down the election posters of the Greens and Labor, the two main political parties opposed to the privatisation of poles and wires.

Apparently, Vince thinks it’s a good idea to make sure that anyone who gets between him and a pot of gold is silenced. To this end he wrote to the Greens threatening to charge them for the costs of taking down our signs opposing privatisation and other campaign materials (stifling public debate) and has now followed this up with a bill of $7000 for removing those signs. The Electrical Trades Union who also used Vince’s poles (or rather the poles that actually belong to you and I) to oppose privatisation has been hit with a bill rumoured to be about $20,000.

Vince is, apparently, concerned about the welfare of the various people who might get injured putting signs up on his poles, even though his public enterprise has never ever been concerned at any other time in the past 100 years or so, or at least not enough to take action any of the years prior to the privatisation debate. He is not, however, concerned about the workers he is likely to want to sack after privatisation, nor the thousands of Australians that cannot pay their power bill due to the exorbitant network charge increases, nor apparently the tens of thousands of people likely to die or be displaced as a result of the emissions created by the electricity in his grid.

No, there is no sign of Vince using his office to campaign for better working conditions for his employees, reduced electricity consumption, undergrounding of transmission wires or anything remotely useful. He is more interested in using the exorbitant salary paid by you and I to harass organisations speaking out against privatisation and to stifle freedom of speech.

Chris Harris
NSW Greens State Campaign Coordinator