Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 6 May 2014
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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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 6 May 2014 4077 Hockey, around his desire to see currently stateowned assets sold across the nation. The Chief Minister, in Saturdays paper, was open about signing up to that at COAG last week. In the NT News, he said: There are clearly no plans to sell any part of Power and Water at this stage. At this stage are the words at the end there. During this debate, in the interest of being an open and accountable government, we have heard, through the Public Accounts Committee, that the government has been in discussion with some private sector companies in developing these bills, and doing business in the Territory. We were not able, through those discussions, to discover which companies they were and the nature of those conversations. It would be nice to get a bit of detail around that, particularly to do with generation. The three bills introduced by the Treasurer to split up the Power and Water Corporation will put more pressure on Territory families and businesses. The governments plans for the corporation, which depend on the passage of these bills we have already seen the main one go through and these other ones certainly look like they will as well will simply compound the pain already inflicted on Territorians by the CLP. The disaggregation and subsequent privatisation of the corporation will inevitably increase tariffs, reduce reliability and cost jobs. The structural separation is a thinly veiled plan towards privatising our Generation Corporation and selling generation assets, currently in the hands of Territorians. Academics and research across the nation have pointed to this being the case. In an ABC interview with Vicki Kerrigan on 13 February, the University of Wollongongs academic Professor Sharon Beder said, What happens is that governments split up power organisations before they privatise them and governments are notoriously reluctant to admit that they are going to privatise because it is very unpopular because everywhere around the world where electricity has been privatised, prices have gone up, reliability has gone down. She also said, But what happens is that competition leads to private companies cutting costs. This is what they call efficiency and this means cutting jobs which means less maintenance, less training for the workforce, more casualisation of the workforce and this leads to a loss of reliability of services and we are talking about an essential service here, which means more black outs which causes all sorts of problems. Accidental fires because things are not maintained properly and then when you get to the retail end of the competition of it, the competition does not actually lead to lower power prices. Power prices will not be cheaper under structural separation or eventual privatisation. This has been the experience elsewhere in Australia where publicly-owned electricity utilities have been split up and then privatised. Earlier this year in the NT News we also saw comments from a professor of Economics, Bill Mitchell, from the Charles Darwin University. He said: The case has not been made that its better for consumers. Normally when governments around the world have been setting up to privatise, they go through a de-bundling stage so they segment units into bits they think they can politically privatise and which can be attractive Anyone who knows anything about the Victorian retail market knows its become an absolute mess. What theyre saying is that the force of the competition will reduce the prices and provide better service prices arent lower and its a confused system Since coming to office the CLP has imposed savage price hikes on Territory families, including a 25% increase in electricity tariffs, with more price rises to come. The network tariff has also been approved and is set to be in place as of 1 July 2014. The details as to how that will work and who will pay for it are yet to be announced, as we heard in Question Time today. We could not get a clear answer on that. All of us as members of this Assembly encounter the struggles our constituents face, as well as the sacrifices and cuts they have had to make to pay power bills which have skyrocketed under the CLP government. If this bill passes today it clearly will, as part of three bills before the Assembly there will be more cost of living pressures and more pain for Territory consumers. What I have also found staggering and alarming about the governments plans for splitting the Power and Water Corporation is that it has shown no evidence to justify heading down this path. It was clear through the Public Accounts Committee process that no one could provide any evidence, cost-benefit or risk analysis of work done by government to show benefits which would flow on to Territorians from the structural separation. This appears to be ideologically driven by the government, with little work behind it to crunch the numbers to back it up. The government is playing with billions of dollars of infrastructure and has no evidence to show that this will deliver a better return for Territory taxpayers.
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