Open letter to Anthony Chisholm

Dear Anthony,

I’m writing with respect to the ALP advertisements on privatisation currently running on TV, which can be viewed by clicking on and

These advertisements contain a number of untruths.

As the Australian Institute for Progress stated at the beginning of this campaign, “Repetition of untrue slogans on the basis that the more frequently and loudly they are repeated the more likely voters are to believe them to be true is not a democratic practice, and we call on the political parties to avoid it”.

Our institute favours full privatisation of the assets that the government is leasing and we are happy to have that argument in the context of an election, and to support all parties that support that position. However the argument should be had on a factual basis.

The untrue assertions in these advertisements are:

  1. That the government is proposing to sell these assets for 99 years
  2. That electricity prices will be higher as proven by privatisation of electricity assets in Victoria

The government is not proposing to sell these assets, and that is plain from the Strong Choices Final Plan. They are leasing rather than selling the assets. On this point the ads also imply that the arrangement is for 99 years, when it is for 50 years with an option for a further 49 years. A lease is not a sale, neither economically nor legally.

Furthermore the facts do not bear out the assertions in the first ad that when they have “sold” the assets “[j]ust like they did in Victoria” that electricity bills will increase because “…electricity bills in Victoria have skyrocketed”. Or the assertion in the second ad that “The only reason someone buys an asset is to make money from it, so you’ll pay more.”

The most recent study into electricity pricing, by Ernst Young, clearly shows that not to be true, as per the table below. Electricity bills in Victoria are lower than in Queensland, and have increased less since privatisation occurred some 19 years ago.


I have enjoyed our chats about campaigning in the past, but this is no way to run an election in a modern democracy.

I look forward to your response and the ALP withdrawing these ads and entering into some serious debate about the merits, or otherwise, of the issues.



Graham Young
Executive Director
Australian Institute for Progress
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