Non Fiction

Steven Carroll

The Age Saturday 28/6/03, Review section, p. 5.

Power Play: The Fight for Control of the World's Electricity, Sharon Beder, Scribe Publications, $35

This is not exactly a Sunday read but it should be read. Sharon Beder lets you know exactly where she stands right from the start. That is, that all over the world throughout the 1980s and '90s, short-sighted, ideologically driven governments sold the key utility of electricity to the market-place. This massive sell-off, she argues, was presented in terms of consumer interest - although the public was rarely asked. The real motive for turning public services into private companies, she maintains, was simply profit. Beder builds a compelling case, saying that this might be OK for hamburger chains but that electricity needs to be handled with great care and foresight - and not be subject to the whims of the market. Chillingly, analysts quoted suggest that by 2020 (or sooner) the world's electricity may belong to fewer than a dozen multinationals.

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