State Assets Privatisation

Legislative Council Hansard – 22 May 2018

The Hon. JOHN GRAHAM ( 18:15 ): As he delivered the Government's last budget Treasurer Dominic Perrottet slipped on the Roman toga and declared his own work to be the envy of the Western world. Before he delivers his next budget he might do well to study the work of some of his predecessors, including the former Treasurer Michael Egan, whom I note is in the gallery of the House today. The Treasurer continued this Government's eight-year obsession with privatisation. This Government has privatised more than $50 billion of the State's assets, including its income-generating assets. As a result, dividend income to the New South Wales Government has fallen between 2012-13 and 2016-17. It has collapsed from $2.648 billion to $1.1 billion. That means that there is less revenue, year on year, to pay for the services we all expect from the New South Wales Government.

That is not the only way in which New South Wales citizens are paying the bill for privatisation—especially when it comes to electricity assets. Prices are going up. I serve on the Legislative Council Select Committee on Electricity Supply, Demand and Prices in New South Wales. The committee has received heartbreaking testimony about the challenges of balancing the family budget in the face of rising power prices. The decisions that families have to make around the kitchen table are about choosing between food and power bills, and worrying about how to pay for school excursions.

Those real pressures on families are not made better by the Leader of the Government and Minister for Energy and Utilities repeatedly talking in this place about "downwards pressure on prices" or "network charges". These things may be going down, but prices are not. Prices in Sydney are up by nearly 60 per cent since this Government came to power nearly eight long years ago. Those are the figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS]. Contrast that with the claim circulated to New South Wales voters before the last election in a mail flyer from this Government. This is what it said, in a big heading, near a picture of the Premier:

Here is my pledge to you.

Please keep it.

Then, under a smaller heading, "Mike Baird's pledge to you," the fourth point of the pledge was:

Prices will not rise as a result of this plan.

However, as I said, power prices have gone up. The ABS says power prices are up by nearly 60 per cent. As to the pledge and the request, "Please keep it," I can assure the Government that I have kept it. I intend to remind Government members of this once or twice between now and the election!