WA treasurer abuses unions over ad gripe

WA Treasurer Mike Nahan had some choice words when asked for his views on a union asking the corruption watchdog to investigate the Barnett government’s taxpayer-funded ads about the sell-off of utility Western Power.


“The unions are the most hypocritical bunch of wankers I have ever seen,” Dr Nahan told reporters.

The Liberal National government announced last November plans to privatise the poles and wires utility, saying it will raise $11 billion to wipe out $8 billion in debt and use $3 billion for infrastructure.

The Australian Services Union said it had lodged a complaint with the Corruption and Crime Commission, requesting it investigate the spending of $270,000 of taxpayer money on a pro-electricity privatisation advertising campaign in the lead-up to the WA election on March 11.

Australian Services Union branch secretary Wayne Wood said more than a quarter of a million dollars of public funds had been “flushed down the toilet” solely to support the Barnett government’s political gain.

“There is enough uncertainty in the parliament and in the election that no one can say the privatisation will go ahead,” he said.

Dr Nahan said the unions were hypocrites because they invested in privatised public assets via industry superannuation funds, such as Ausgrid in NSW, while running a campaign against Western Power’s sale.

“They are complaining to the CCC that we use state government funding to support government projects against the lies of the ASU and ETU, get real,” he said.

One Nation could block the sale if it gets the balance of power, given leader Pauline Hanson and the party have a policy of opposing privatisations, but Dr Nahan thinks she will change her mind.