Lynne Craigie denies beneficial Enterprise models are “privatisation by stealth”

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
WA Local Government Association President Lynne Craigie
Camera IconWA Local Government Association President Lynne Craigie Credit: The West Australian

The WA Local Government Authority has refuted claims by the Australian Services Union that it is trying to privatise provision of local government services such as the Bunbury Regional Airport.

ASU State secretary Wayne Wood made the claim following a series of WALGA newspaper advertisements which suggested regional airports were a “prime example” of why Beneficial Enterprise models should be introduced.

“Beneficial enterprises will mean poorer services for the community, fewer staff, lower wages and lack of transparency and accountability,” he said.

“WALGA’s beneficial enterprises need to be blocked as they are the first step towards privatisation by stealth.”

WALGA president Lynne Craigie said the authority was not attempting to privatise.

“The essence of a Beneficial Enterprise is that it is majority owned by Local Government,” she said.

“WALGA’s proposal is that Beneficial Enterprises remain owned by Local Government and that they may only be established after extensive local community consultation and support.”

“Through this model, Local Governments would be allowed to create arms-length entities to deliver commercial services that are too tight in profit margins for private industries, but are needed by the community.”

Cr Craigie said regional airports had been raised as an example because commercial-like structures could be put in place to include directors with relevant expertise.

“It may be that the operation of the airport will not change, however the governance of the business may change to include directors that have expertise in the airport industry,” she said.

ASU State assistant secretary Jill Hugo said beneficial enterprises agreements had not worked elsewhere in Australia and the world.

“We see it as a slippery slope,” she said.

“What it meant for our members working for the City of Melbourne is they have had to take significant pay cuts working for Citywide.

“It’s a scary prospect for our members if it was to be put in place in WA.”

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