Locals will face higher power bills if electricity is privatised, the State Opposition has warned.
Shadow Energy Minister, Adam Searle joined Labor candidates for Penrith and Londonderry Emma Husar and Prue Car on Monday to call for a referendum on the privatisation of the electricity sector.
“Under the term of this government electricity has risen by 60 per cent and this will only do one thing and this will drive power prices up, and that is frightening people,” Ms Car said.
“We need to know the detail of this and the community has a right to know what the details are.”
Mr Searle said the impact of any electricity privatisation on both the State Budget and the cost of living for local residents was huge, and needed to be thoroughly investigated.
“The primary concern is that the limited details released by the government about this proposed transaction do not add up,” Mr Searle said.
“We believe that all the cards need to be on the table before the community can make any kind of an informed decision, and we believe that once all the facts are known the community will say no to this.”
He said it was important that the issue was more than just a State election topic.
“They should not be sold in a fire sale – any transaction must be properly scrutinised and that’s why we believe it should be done by direct vote of the people, not lost in the hurly burly of a state election campaign,” he said.
Mr Searle called the electricity privatisation plan a “dodgy proposal”.
While power price increases would be devastating for an area such as Penrith, a recent Frontier Economics report into the regulation of electricity network pricing shows privatisation doesn’t mean people will pay more.
The report showed that pricing has been comparable or better, in jurisdictions in which network businesses are privately owned.
State Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, said Labor had “zero credibility” on electricity prices, claiming that the 60 per cent price rise was actually under Labor, not the current Government.
“Under the reforms introduced by the Liberal Government electricity prices have risen, on average, at or below CPI. Leasing the electricity will put further downward pressure on prices by lowering network costs and unlock funds for new public assets,” Mr Ayres said.
“Labor’s call for a constitutional change smells like utter desperation and shows they have no plan for investing in crucially needed roads, rail, health and education infrastructure. All Labor stands for is more debt and higher taxes. Which means you pay now and well into the future.”
Energy Minister Anthony Roberts told the Weekender that there was no need for a referendum.
“The people of NSW will make their position clear at the next State election,” he said.
“The Government will continue to provide the community with information to allow them to make a clear choice between the Government’s Plan, which includes unlocking $20 billion for infrastructure for the State, or Labor’s scaremongering and terrible track record when it comes to managing the networks and driving up power prices.”