Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 6 May 2014

Details:

Title

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 6 May 2014

Other title

Parliamentary Record 12

Collection

Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016

Date

2014-05-06

Notes

Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Language

English

Subject

Debates

Publisher name

Hansard Office

Place of publication

Darwin

File type

application/pdf

Use

Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Parent handle

http://hdl.handle.net/10070/268300

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/438543

Page content

DEBATES Tuesday 6 May 2014 4036 We know a cost benefit or risk analysis on the split of Power and Water has not been undertaken. We know that secret discussions have been held with private sector electricity interests behind closed doors. We know the bills provide for the transfer and sale of Power and Water assets by regulation. By the stroke of the Treasurers pen, privatisation can occur. We know the Chief Minister and Treasurer have backflipped on their commitment not to privatise or sell Power and Water without a mandate from Territorians at a general election. They are not ruling out selling public assets, and we know, sadly, the CLP cannot be trusted with the Territorys public assets. We do not support these bills that will allow the privatisation of our assets with a cost impost on every Territorian, including a significant reduction in reliability, when this government has no mandate to do this. It has not taken it to Territorians to seek their views and their permission, and this government has done everything it can to hide appropriate scrutiny of this in any meaningful way. I have seen some bad decisions taken in the past by CLP governments. I have never seen anything as disgraceful as this. Mr VATSKALIS (Casuarina): Mr Deputy Speaker, I listened to the debate from both sides; I was also on the Public Accounts Committee where we interrogated a number of government officials from the public service and Power and Water, and I listened with great interest to what they had to say. Looking at the legislation, you might think it is an attempt to make the Power and Water Corporation more efficient, and that is the argument the government has brought before the House. The Treasurers mantra is that Power and Water is not efficient, there is no transparent financial accountability, somehow it is overloaded with staffers and something needs to be done to provide the opportunity for lower power prices for Territory consumers. The Treasurer also said there has been a change in the power and energy market environment in Australia which started 20 years ago, and asked where Labor has been all this time and why it is resisting competition. Let us make some things clear. It was a Labor government in Western Australia which split its power and water provider to include competition. It was a Labor government in Canberra which sold the Commonwealth Bank to bring competition, so the mantra that only conservative governments bring competition to Australia is false. We also hear about competition. Hold on a minute, I have been in the Territory for 22 years and I have a long memory; I came here when the CLP was in power, as it was for 27 years, and it was at that time reform started in Australia. I cannot remember any CLP government coming to parliament and introducing any legislation with regard to Power and Water to increase competition and bring down prices. On the contrary, it was a CLP government which did everything possible to stop any other companies entering the Territory market to sell energy because it did not want competition. That company was Paul Everinghams; he had a generator at Mount Todd and asked for access to the cables and wires of Power and Water to sell electricity. It refused to provide access to the network, and as a result he took us to court. In 2005, the Labor government was forced to pay $60m compensation to Paul Everingham because the CLP government stopped him accessing our network. With regard to the member for Araluens comments, there was competition in Alice Springs. There was a power generation facility in the Brewer Estate which the CLP had engaged at an extraordinary price, and a colonial contract we could not break until it finished. It would have been too expensive. That company was selling power to the Power and Water Corporation at a very high price, take or pay. It is extraordinary the CLP government would advocate for competition and accuse us of causing strife in it. Why did Power and Water fall into so much strife? Let us look back. Power and Water was established by the then CLP government; it amalgamated sewerage, water and power, and created utilities. Unfortunately, before 2001, the CLP government of the time embarked on a big effort to reduce staff in Power and Water, cutting maintenance workers and not taking on apprentices. It did not put any money into Power and Water. Instead, it bought a private power line between Darwin and Katherine, and spent significantly more than what should have been spent. That became public through government officials, who disclosed the then government paid nearly twice the price of what we should have paid to buy the power line. I do not know why. Nobody was able to explain why that government bought the Darwin to Katherine power line. As a result, the infrastructure of Power and Water was deteriorating. Power and Water did not have the people and capacity to maintain infrastructure, and that culminated with explosions at the Casuarina substation. At that crucial moment, it


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