Chairman Dan’s Great Leap Forward

Like many Victorians, I have a deep seated and long standing affection for the long gone State Electricity Commission of Victoria. My father was involved in building its headquarters, Monash House, in William Street in the early 1970s, and then worked in its maintenance team for a decade.

That building still stands, under a shiny new facade, but the only trace of its SEC history is the continued presence of Mervyn Napier Waller’s Prometheus mosaic in the foyer:

The SEC was created in the early 1920s by General Sir John Monash to utilise our abundant sources of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley to provide the people of Victoria with cheap reliable clean electricity for generations.

Sadly, a decade of profligate spending by the Cain-Kirner government from 1982 to 1992 forced the incoming Kennett government to sell off the SEC to pay off the mountain of debt.

And now Premier Andrews is going around wearing a new jacket with the iconic SEC logo on it, having announced his intention of creating a new electrical generating body under the old SEC name.

But this will not be the SEC. It will not be about cheap and reliable electricity. It will be about supposedly renewable energy through solar panels (arguably not a sustainable technology) and wind mills.

This energy will not be cheap, and it will not be reliable. It will represent an irresponsible and doctrinaire overreach by an autocratic leader.

And it is hypocritical. Since becoming Premier, Andrews has not ceased privatisations when it suits him – the land titles office being one which I would expect would be more antithetical to most people than that of utilities infrastructure.

Yet Andrews talks about how the SEC should never have been privatised. A decade of seriously irresponsible financial mismanagement by his predecessors in Labor government forced the privatisation of both the SEC, and the sell off of the much beloved State Bank of Victoria.

I am reminded somewhat of Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward. In order to industrialise Communist China, Mao went and forced all sorts of absurd cottage industries which were unsustainable to start up, such as backyard iron smelters. His economic ignorance ended up (as even Homer Simpson has reminded us) costing some 50 or 60 million lives.

Continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in the way that Andrews is doing, along with the creation of an erstatz SEC to destabilise our electricity supply, is sheer economic vandalism on a Maoist scale. The lobbyists for Communist China whom Andrews was prepared to listen to on the Belt and Road deal must be pleased with their pupil.

But I too am familiar with Maoism, and I am fond of quoting from the Red Book:

“We must see to it that all our cadres and all our people constantly bear in mind that ours is a big socialist country but an economically backward and poor one, and that this is a very big contradiction. To make China rich and strong needs several decades of intense effort, which will include, among other things, the effort to practise strict economy and combat waste, ie the policy of building up our country through diligence and frugality.”

A $200 Billion state debt is a very high price to pay for the likely re-election of this petty autocrat.

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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