“How long has this been going on?” Sig asked Vi as she carried two drinks from the kitchen to the lounge where Sig was sitting and reading the paper.

“How long has what been going on?”

Of course Vi didn’t know what he was talking about given that she couldn’t see the newspaper Sig was reading but he’d gotten annoyed with the headline he was reading and didn’t consider the obvious fact that Vi was not looking at the same page. As she sat down next to him on the couch he showed her the headline he was talking about.

“GOVERNMENT AUTHORISES GAS SALE!”

Under the main heading was the byline

“PM agrees to privatisation of national gas supply”

“Bloody hell I didn’t see that coming.” Vi said surprised.

Holding the newspaper open so that they could both see it Sig and Vi read the article together.

In a bid to regain control of government expenditure and bring the budget back into surplus at the next election, as promised, Prime Minister Colin Turncoat announced yesterday that his government would be privatising the national gas supply. In his press release Mr Turncoat claimed that the privatisation would create thousands of jobs as multiple tenders would be accepted for each area of the business. The introduction of multiple suppliers would create choice in the marketplace and therefore create competition that didn’t exist with government ownership. He also made the claim the consumers would be the biggest winners because competition in the marketplace would drive the price consumers pay down to the lowest price in the world.

Government insiders have said that the plan which could including separating the supply, the maintenance and the billing to multiple companies would not only be unique to the country but also be a model that other countries of the world would use as a model to privatise their own government utilities.

The article continued on with quotes and comments from the Prime Minister’s press release and positively spun comments from other unnamed government sources. As Sig and Vi read what was written the occasional grunt, or gasp of disapproval escaped their mouths but neither spoke until they both got to the end.

The Opposition has accused the government of short term politics suggesting that selling off government assets is not in the best interest of the country. They stated that while the sale might make the government’s next budget look good it will do little for future budgets.

When contacted for her own response to the issue Sabrina Tow, leader of the opposition, stated the it was a poor move by a government desperate to keep their promise of a budget surplus. She further added that it would cost jobs as competition increased and that there was no evidence, even from the government’s own white papers that consumer price would come down.

“For fucks sake!” Sig said when he finished reading. “How the hell does this government think such a move is a good idea?”

“It doesn’t have to be a good idea for the rest of the country. All they give a shit about is that surplus and the billion dollars they will get from selling off such a huge asset.” Vi replied.

Sig put the paper down and reached for the glass of lemonade that Vi had brought him before she sat down to read the article with him. After a decent gulp of the lemonade he put the glass back down on the table and looked at Vi.

“And what’s the bet there has been some back room deals done here. There is no way Captain Courageous,” he was referring to the prime minister, “came up with this without having at least a few ideas who would be putting in tenders for the business.”

“If only we could prove that.” Vi said knowing that backroom deals were beyond their ability to prove.

“I just can’t see how the bloody hell the voters and supporters of this idiot can’t see through his bullshit. This wont create jobs, well at least not jobs for the lower end of town. CEO’s and directors might be ok but numbers of workers at the coal face will be a bare minimum, then cut again every year to make room for more top end bonuses. The workers they do use will be reclassified and rehired at a lower wage and meanwhile the CEO’s will all be on multi-million dollar pay packages because they ‘deserve it’.” Sig emphasised the words deserve it with air quotes. He didn’t need to highlight his dislike for the way company heads seemed justify their enormous pay packets to Vi but it was force of habit.

Sig took another drink and Vi spoke.

“The opposition is right to speak up against this, but unfortunately we know they aren’t much better. It was only a few years ago that they sold off the paper mills to the highest bidder.”

“Yeah,” Sig said, “and look how that worked out.”

Neither Sig nor Vi needed to rehash the problems of the paper industry, they had both protested and protested hard when the Opposition, then in government, did to the paper industry what the current government was going to the gas industry. In five years since the privatisation the mills had become foreign owned, the workforce had halved in most mills, and the regulations once put in place to protect the country’s forests were being ignored. Profits might have been skyrocketing, a point the Opposition was happy to use as justification for their move, but with the profits going offshore to foreign owners and investors it was little comfort to the workers and the rest of the country.

“Fucking arseholes are all as bad as each other!” Sig said angrily but not loosing his cool. “Money grabbing shitbags who only give a fuck about themselves.”

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