Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 6 May 2014



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 6 May 2014

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Parliamentary Record 12


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




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Hansard Office

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 6 May 2014 4005 Territorians. It is part of the governments thinly veiled privatisation agenda for Power and Water. I will speak plainly; every member of this Assembly has an interest in this debate and the governments plan to split Power and Water. This will not deliver cheaper power, water or sewerage for any Territorian. Experiences elsewhere show this will drive up the price of power, water and sewerage for everyone. This will not mean increased reliability of services for Territorians. It is well known that when structural separation or privatisation takes place, investments in repairs, maintenance and infrastructure decrease. This means more blackouts, more water outages and more issues for everyone. This will mean a reduction in the number of staff working at Power and Water. The Treasurers said earlier this year on ABC radio: It would be my expectation that there will be reductions in staff numbers. By his own words, The Treasurer has confirmed that he expects staff cuts as part of structural separation, which will put more pressure on the hard-working staff at Power and Water, and increase their workloads. The changes to the Government Owned Corporations Act before the Assembly will give the shareholding minister of Power and Water, the Treasurer, access to a raft of new powers which will enable him to sell or transfer assets of part or all of government owned corporations. This bill seeks to give the shareholding minister power, by regulation, to transfer assets of Power and Water Corporation, the Power Generation Corporation or the Power Retail Corporation as he pleases. He will not even have to bring it before parliament for scrutiny. Most disappointingly, like the move to split Power and Water in the first place, the changes to the Government Owned Corporations Act will mean the government does not have to consult with Territorians. The shareholding minister can transfer Power and Water assets with a simple tick and flick. If this bill passes today, we are on the road to the sale and privatisation of Power and Water assets currently owned by Territorians. These bills before the Assembly are an attempt to structurally separate Power and Water Corporation as it exists today, to strip out two components from the current corporation that have potential for private sale due to their capacity to run profitable margins and attract buyers, that is, stripping out the generation division and its valuable assets and the major contestable customers of the retail section within the Power and Water Corporation. Left within the Power and Water Corporation will be sections which do not have the same capacity to drive profits. The power networks section, water services, corporate services, system control and remote operations which services Indigenous Essential Services will stay together within the Power and Water Corporation monopoly. The gas section will also remain there to start with, and I will touch on that later. There have been questions about how this will impact bills and power token costs for people in urban centres and the bush. The Treasurer has made it clear numerous times in the media, and in the Chamber, that he wants Power and Water to work like a profit-driven commercial business. In a media interview one year ago, he said, The situation is Power and Water are selling electricity for cheaper than they produce it and we are pouring enormous amounts of government money into Power and Water, subsidising peoples electricity right across the Northern Territory. There is a misconception out there that it is only the remote people and seniors being subsidised. The fact is, all Territorians are. He went on to say, When you are selling a product at a lower price than you are producing it for, government contributions continue to increase in order to maintain that business. Something has to be done. On May 14 2013 in this House, the Treasurer gave a response to a question about the commercial sustainability of Power and Water. He said: It is appalling that the Power and Water Corporation is selling power for less than it is producing it. He went on to say: We are doing everything we can to improve its efficiency to ensure it operates at least as efficiently as any comparable business In this Chamber, over time, the Treasurer seems to be coming clean about what the government intends to do to Power and Water. In this Chamber in December he said: We are on the record saying we are not interested in privatising any Power and Water Corporation assets this term. We would not do so without a mandate of the people, and we are not seeking such mandate.

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