Unions Oppose Latest Sydney Ferry Privatisation Push

The Maritime Union has warned that the latest calls for privatisation, both by the NSW Opposition and a former Ferry executive are not in the public interest.

Mr Smith was responding to reports in today's Sydney Morning Herald by a former Ferries executive and the leader of the Opposition that the Ferries and the states ports should go under the hammer.

Olav Groot, the general manager of assets at Sydney Ferries Corporation, has jumped ship to one of the main bidders for the Ferry service, at the same time advocating the ferry services should be delivered by the private sector," said Mr Smith. "That speaks for itself. Presumably Mr Groot means they should go to the undisclosed company he is now working for. Well that would be in Mr Groot's best interest but not necessarily in the public interest."

Mr Smith warned that handing over control of Sydney Ferries had been tried twice previously and twice the State Government had been forced to come in and rescue the service - in 1951 and 1974.

"There's a lesson in history," said Mr Smith. "Let's learn from it. Private operators have failed to operate Sydney Ferries in the past and they will fail in the future. Sydney Ferries are an essential part of this city's public transport mix.

Mr Smith said the government would be serving the public better if it worked with Sydney Ferries to better coordinate the service with other transport services and recognise the environmental benefits of ferry patronage.

"World shipping is deregulated and privatised and that's why we end up with the sort of disasters we had off the Queensland coast recently.

We need more regulation not less," said Mr Smith. "And as for Mr O'Farrell's announcement today that he will put the state's public assets to a fire sale, well that's just the sort of sell everything to our business mates that will never serve the public."