NSW’s power generators to be sold
Published: May 30, 2012 – 1:55PM
NSW’s electricity generators will be sold off after the state government got the support of the crossbenchers.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the move would go ahead after getting support from the Shooters and Fishers Party.
Mr O’Farrell said the sale would unlock $3 billion for critical infrastructure.
However, he has agreed to allow shooting in national parks, in a deal to gain the Shooters’ support.
The government in November announced plans to privatise the state’s generators, but keep the poles and wires in public hands.
The bill has languished in the upper house since March, with the government unable to get the support of the two Shooters and Fishers Party MPs.
Mr O’Farrell today defended his backdown on the Shooters Party’s push to allow shooting in national parks.
Under the Shooters Party’s plan, the Game and Feral Animal Act will be amended to allow shooting of feral animals in 79 of the state’s 799 national parks, including Kosciuszko and Dorrigo parks.
“Understand that what we’re simply doing is allowing licensed shooters to do what is currently undertaken by professional shooters and in some case National Parks and Wildlife staff in a limited number of national parks and reserves across the state,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“What I’ve said in the past is we wouldn’t allow our national parks to be turned into hunting reserves, and this decision respects that.”
The Premier acknowledged the government would not have backed shooting in national parks if it was not for the need to get the power privatisation through the upper house.
But he said the government had to “live with the Parliament that the people of NSW have given us”.
“Our bigger public interest test here is to unlock the asset value of the generators to assist us in rebuilding the economy by delivering the infrastructure needed to get this state going,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“It’s about unlocking the proceeds of our generation assets in order to invest in the infrastructure that is critical to get the state’s economy back on track, back booming, to create those jobs, to create those revenues in which to provide services.”
The power privatisation, which will be debated in the upper house today, would also save NSW $850 million in ongoing operational and maintenance costs for the generators, Mr O’Farrell said.
Potential costs of $6 billion for meeting future generation capacity would also be avoided, he said.
Opposition Leader John Robertson said the privatisation would push up electricity prices, arguing a power sell-off in South Australia had pushed up bills by 30 per cent.
He also accused Mr O’Farrell of breaking an election promise, citing a comment to a Lithgow newspaper in January 2011, when the then opposition leader said there were no plans to privatise the poles and wires.
“Barry O’Farrell’s shown today that he’s prepared to break every promise that he’s made to get a deal up to get this through,” Mr Robertson told reporters.
Mr Robertson added that safety in national parks would be at risk.
“A premier who promises not to allow hunting in national parks is about to allow a shooting spree to open up in some of the most pristine parts of the state,” he said.
Labor’s environment spokesman Luke Foley said Environment Minister Robyn Parker could not be trusted to keep anybody safe in national parks.
“[There will be] shooters rampaging through our world-class national parks,” he told reporters.
“Nobody will have any confidence in the safety of our native animals or indeed of members of the public in our national park estate with Robyn Parker in charge – she is the least competent minister in the NSW government.”
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nsws-power-generators-to-be-sold-20120530-1zinr.html