MPs opposed to power sell-off

Residents in the Northern Rivers will face higher electricity prices and uncertain service levels under a privatised power industry in NSW, the Greens and local National MPs have warned.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa are pressing ahead with the proposed sale of the states electricity industry despite strong opposition from within the state ALP, government MPs and unions.

Mr Iemma has said he will sell the electricity retailers including Country Energy and lease out the states power generators to encourage private enterprise to provide the extra $15 billion investment needed in NSW power over the next five years.

Ballina MP Don Page said the states Nationals MPs were opposed to the sell-off because it was of no benefit to the people of NSW, particularly the less-populated rural communities, which would be exposed to increased power prices and lower levels of service.

Mr Page said the NSW Government did not have a mandate to privatise electricity. He said before the last election Mr Iemma said there were no plans to privatise power generation in NSW yet he turns around after the election and does precisely what he said he wouldnt.

The reason were in this situation is because the NSW Government, for more than a decade, failed to invest the dividends of power generation into new infrastructure, he said.

Late last month, Sydney Greens MLC John Kaye told concerned Lismore residents at a public forum at the Lismore Workers Club that they should be very concerned about the plan to sell electricity retailers, including Country Energy, because it would be bad for consumers, electricity-industry employees, the environment and the states economy.

Mr Kaye said public ownership was also important because electricity was a core part of the states infrastructure and shifting essential services to the private sector undermined the publics capacity to ensure critical needs were met.

Clarence MP Steve Cansdell said privatisation would cost jobs in his electorate where Country Energy had a strong presence.

Theyre trying to sell-off the family jewels its a stupid way to get their short-term finances to stock up their mismanagement of the state, he said.

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