THE member for Albury cannot say specifically how his constituents will benefit from the NSW government’s planned electricity sell-off.
In a press release yesterday, Greg Aplin trumpeted that $6 billion would go to regional areas, but when The Border Mail asked him to nominate where, he could not say.
On Tuesday, the NSW government voted unanimously to lease 49 per cent of the state’s poles and wires for 99 years, with $20 billion in proceeds going to infrastructure.
The release stated “at least” $1 billion each would go to roads and water in regional areas.
But that’s as detailed as Mr Aplin could go.
“You can’t be specific, because there aren’t particular areas at this point,” he said.
He said he had ensured Albury would benefit before signing off on the deal, but he “couldn’t tell” what was specifically negotiated inside the party room.
“We made it clear members would be consulted on the needs for individual regional areas,” he said.
“It’s an enormous amount — we would be absolutely delighted if a proportion would be transported to this area.”
Mr Aplin said he hadn’t been part of the discussions not to sell Essential Energy, a condition of the National Party.
He said lease conditions would also ensure the job protection of permanent award workers would be treated consistently with previous arrangements.
“We’ll have plenty of opportunities to stimulate jobs and grow the economy,” Mr Aplin said.
“This plan will ensure we are rebuilding NSW and making the Albury electorate a stronger and better community.”
Albury councillor and former Labor candidate Darren Cameron claimed Mr Aplin’s track record of securing funding for the area meant he “feared” Albury would miss out.
“The only reason Essential Energy wasn’t sold was because of the deal with the National Party, not the member for Albury,” he said.
Cr Cameron said the state would lose $1.4 billion in annual dividends that already went towards infrastructure in exchange for the one-off $20 billion.
He believed jobs would be lost and prices would rise.
“It’s fanciful to think that there will be the same level of employment,” he said.
“(And) I don’t think anyone is naive enough to believe that privatisation leads to lower prices.”
A Treasury-commissioned analysis shows customers paid less in Victoria and South Australia after privatisation.
But one reason for the discrepancy was government businesses in NSW and Queensland had spent billions upgrading their networks, and Victoria and South Australia might soon follow suit.