'Power sale a certainty'

Friday, 19th October, 2012

By Erica Visser

State MP John Williams says that selling NSW electricity networks would happen despite unions declaring it a "licence to gouge consumers".

The Productivity Commission, in a report released yesterday, called for the overhaul of the regulation and ownership of the electricity networks.

It suggested that by privatising the remainder of the electricity sector, consumers would enjoy increased efficiency and better prices.

But Unions NSW labelled the plan a "recipe for disaster".

"In the real world, sell-offs achieve very little...Privatisation will simply provide a new monopoly owner with a licence to gouge consumers," said Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon.

But Mr Williams said that this was the "obvious" response from unions.

He said that the reality was the Government was faced with a difficult position after the past Labor Government partially privatised energy assets.

"It has to go ahead. Right now there's an impossible arrangement which is not working," Mr Williams said.

He said that the sale would be open to international companies, as was the case in Victoria where power was privatised in the 1990s.

"If you look at Victoria, they've had three successive Chinese companies that owned it," he said. "I don't think that's a problem at all.

"We as a Government are going to ensure that consumers are protected and that there's a level of security and protection involved."

But, according to Mr Williams, the sell-off would not be easy.

"It's obviously going to be a difficult sale through the Government...

The assets lack maintenance by the previous government who took dividends but put nothing back in," he said.

"The unfortunate part about it is there is still some sort of degree of risk associated it, in regards to purchaser and issues like the retention of employees."

Mayor Wincen Cuy said that the proposed would be considered by City Council.