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Candidates tangled in poles and wires issue

Thursday, 19th March, 2015

Independent candidate for Barwon, Rohan Boehm, and the Nationals’ Kevin Humphries crossed swords this week over the proposed sell-off of “poles and wires” to fund infrastructure projects.

Mr Boehm said that the privatisation would cause 1400 job losses from Essential Energy.

He said that the Essential Energy advisory group had told the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) that if the sale goes ahead country towns had the most to lose, with the job losses compounding the lack of maintenance and infrastructure that would already come with privatisation.

“Privatisation is about profit, not service,” Mr Boehm said. 

“A foreign-owned company will shed these jobs as a matter of course to keep its overheads down and the maintenance of our electricity infrastructure at a bare minimum.

“Barwon already has the worst electricity distribution performance in the state, with many remote areas experiencing blackouts on a regular basis, and others having intermittent service at best.

“There are 17 poles per person in urban areas, 27 poles per person in rural areas. That makes it so much harder for a pared-back workforce to maintain these poles in remote areas.”

Mr Bowen said the Nationals were resisting the AER’s plan to reduce the revenue allowance for AER. 

“However, reductions in the cost of capital meant that Essential Energy could well afford to have its revenue allowance relaxed, with a 60 per cent real reduction in the capital investment program compared to the previous five years proving that it is operating at maximum efficiency, with no need to shed jobs.”

But Mr Humphries dismissed the claims, saying the independent candidate was scaremongering to mask his own lack of realistic plans.

“Yet again Mr Boehm is parroting a discredited Labor scare campaign to hide the fact he does not have one costed, achievable policy to benefit the people of Broken Hill,” Mr Humphries said.

“A key part of the decision to quarantine Essential Energy from the lease arrangements was to protect local jobs.

“Despite the fact that Essential Energy is totally quarantined from the long-term lease, regional NSW will still receive $6 billion to improve local roads, schools and hospitals. 

“We have also allocated and reserved close to $500 million to secure the short, medium and long-term water supply of Broken Hill, which is something Mr Boehm is unable to deliver with his un-costed and unachievable empty promises.

“I make no apologies for supporting local jobs, reasonable electricity prices and record investment in regional infrastructure.”

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