Power play: manoeuvring for pole position on electricity network

A POSSIBLE truce on privatising the remainder of the state’s electricity network has attracted mixed responses from Orange’s representatives.

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner announced yesterday The Nationals would demand $10 billion for regional infrastructure if the Liberals decided to sell off the poles and wires.The assets’ anticipated value is $30 billion.

However, member for Orange Andrew Gee said the matter had not been considered in the parliamentary party room and he would reserve his judgement until the proposal was discussed.

“Before we even get to the question of how much of the proceeds should go to regional areas, the threshold question is whether they should actually be sold at all.” he said.

The Coalition promised not to sell the poles and wires at the 2011 election and party membership voted against the sale at its conference in Bathurst last year.

Mr Gee believed the Liberals wanted to use the proceeds to fund projects in Sydney.

“Even if you could sell the poles and wires for $30 billion, and opinion on that is not unanimous, the list of Sydney infrastructure projects is so long that there isn’t going to be very much change out of the sale cheque,” he said.

“There is great scope for country communities to be dudded in all of this.”

Orange mayor John Davis said if the assets were sold, he supported an infrastructure allocation.

“It’s good to see [Mr Stoner’s] going into bat for a third of the money for country NSW when a third of the people live in the country,” he said.

“It would give country areas a fair slice of the pie.”

Cr Davis believed the Bells Line Expressway was the ideal project, and affordable within a $10 billion allocation.

Member for Calare John Cobb said the federal government’s Badgerys Creek airport announcement created a strong case for the progression of the expressway, but it relied on the state government reserving the road corridor.

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