Don Page speaks out about sale of infrastructure
BALLINA MP Don Page has added his voice to those opposing the sale of NSW's "poles and wires" electricity infrastructure as government MPs prepare to consider the issue ahead of the State Budget.
Following the release of a poll indicating strong opposition to the sale in his Ballina electorate, Mr Page, who recently stepped down from the front bench and plans to retire at the next election, said he had several concerns about a sale.
"As local member for Ballina, my concerns about the sale of poles and wires are: possible regional job losses, any potential increase in electricity prices; any potential reduction in service levels; and, subject to the above, the proportion of any proceeds for regional infrastructure," he said.
Mr Page also pointed out the Nationals voted to oppose any sale of poles and wires at its state conference last year.
The Ballina MP is not the only Nationals MP speaking out either.
NSW Nationals Deputy Leader and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has also come out against the sale, telling the ABC his constituents didn't want the sale "and I agree with them".
NSW Premier Mike Baird has floated a proposal to sell 49% of the state's poles and wires on a 99-year lease.
However, opponents of the sale say other states that have gone down that path, notably Victoria, have been left battling job cuts and a less reliable electricity supply.
"In Victoria, poor maintenance by private owners sparked a number of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires," Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake said. "Price protections are temporary, as are guarantees of job levels, and the fact is that private owners will be wanting to maximise their profits through higher prices or lower services.
"It is those facts, along with the experience of past privatisations that is driving the overwhelming community opposition to a sale of the electricity network."