Business

Decision to keep Swanbank open is about asset sales: Union

STATION SITE: Swanbank Power Station in its heyday and (inset) the 50-year-old Swanbank B coal-fired power station which closed in 2012 is demolished.
STATION SITE: Swanbank Power Station in its heyday and (inset) the 50-year-old Swanbank B coal-fired power station which closed in 2012 is demolished. FILETERRY ROYAN

UNIONS have dismissed moves to extend Swanbank power station operations by two months as a power play from the government to boost profits and prop up the station for a sell-off of the site.

ETU state organiser Jason Young accused the government of playing games with workers' lives in an attempt to justify asset sales.

"It's not fair on the workers. Most, if not all are happy to stay. They are happy for the extra coin for a couple of months. But the uncertainty is not fair on them," Mr Young said.

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"The government is not thinking of employment. Thirty employees will ultimately be made redundant.

"There is clearly a market for (gas-fired power station supply) otherwise they would close it down now."

Of the 30 staff at Swanbank E, 20 staff have accepted voluntary redundancies to come into effect in December with 10 remaining on site as the gas-fired Swanbank E power station was put in cold storage.

"This is just the State Government playing with people's electricity prices to make the books look appealing to prospective buyers," Mr Young said.

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"They are lining their pockets to prop up the balance statement. The government will be fully supportive of this because the balance sheets will be good when they sell it next year.

"If they are getting the fuel cheaper, then drop electricity prices."

Stanwell is one of the businesses being considered for sale or lease as part of the Government's Strong Choices plan.

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A spokeswoman for Treasurer Tim Nicholls said cabinet was expecting to deliver a plan in the next 10 days to take to the election on asset sales.

However she would not respond to questions on whether the extension for Swanbank E was related to planned asset sales or whether savings from cheaper gas supply would deliver cheaper power bills.

"Decisions about the operation of Swanbank E are operational matters for Stanwell," she said.

Stanwell is a Queensland Government-owned corporation formed in 1997.

Topics:  asset sales, electrical trades union, job losses, stanwell corporation, strong choices, swanbank power station



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