Gee waits for the buzz over potential power sell off

WARY: Member for Orange Andrew Gee

WARY: Member for Orange Andrew Gee

ANY proposal to sell off the state’s electricity poles and wires will be viewed cautiously by Member for Orange Andrew Gee who says if any potential sale is not properly structured in could impact on jobs and infrastructure opportunities for regional NSW.

Mr Gee told the Central Western Daily when he walks into the government party room in Sydney tomorrow and the privatisation proposal is presented to Liberal and Nationals MPs, it will be his first opportunity to see what the government is proposing in any sell off.

“So I am adopting a wait and see attitude at this stage but so far I have not seen or read anything in the media that would make me want to support the sale,” he said.

“I only know what I have read in the media but I have concerns.

“People are only just starting to talk about this but the feedback I have had so far from my constituents is that people don’t want it to happen.”

Mr Gee says when privatisation of electricity infrastructure was mooted a couple of years ago it wasn’t popular in electorates across the state.

“People were very vocal - they wanted it to remain in public hands,” he said.

The Member for Orange told the CWD the potential sale of Essential Energy is problematic and leaves the question over the future of Transgrid.

“Transgrid has a strong presence in regional NSW,” he said.

Mr Gee said the message being put out from some sources is that any potential sell off of 49 per cent of the network will bring in $30 billion to the state, with speculation country New South Wales would be allocated one third of that amount.

However Mr Gee says another major concern is that any sell off will bring with it an existing debt of $19 billion which he doesn’t believe will go down well with the public.

“We are living in an age where the public are very cynical about politicians and what they say and I don’t think you can blame the public for that,” he said.

“If 49 per cent is sold off will the public really believe that the other 51 per cent won’t be sold?”

Mr Gee said if any privatisation sale goes ahead he fears local jobs will be replaced by ‘fly in fly out’ operators.

“Every day people see electricity workers out working on the poles and wires and those jobs could potentially go,” he said.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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