ETU Media Releases

ETU Media Releases

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ACCC Exposes O'Farrell Government Attempt to Sell Out Public

- Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The O’Farrell Government has been caught attempting to sell out the people of NSW for the sake of a quick buck, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today ruling against the acquisition of publicly-owned Macquarie Generation by AGL Energy.

The Electrical Trades Union is urging Treasurer Mike Baird to stand by his statement last month that, should the ACCC reject AGL’s offer, the NSW Government would retain ownership of Macquarie Generation so that it could continue as an independent competitor in the electricity marketplace.

ETU spokesman Adam Kerslake said the ACCC’s decision confirmed the union’s view that the privatisation would have reduced competition, restricted the entry of new retailers, and led to higher power prices for the people of NSW.

“The ACCC has confirmed that the sale of Macquarie Generation to AGL is not in the best interest of NSW consumers,” Mr Kerslake said.

“It’s time for Mike Baird to stop trying to sell out the people of NSW for a quick buck and instead commit to retaining Macquarie Generation in public hands so that it can continue to provide effective competition in the sector and keep down power prices.

“If the ACCC could see this sale was bad for competition, and most of the market feedback to their enquiry opposed the deal on those same grounds, how is it possible that the Treasurer of NSW was being honest when he claimed this sale would drive down power prices.”

ACCC chairman Rod Sims mirrored the concerns of the ETU’s submission in his announcement this morning, saying that to allow the sale would have meant the three largest electricity retailers in NSW would also own up to 80 per cent of electricity generation capacity, raising barriers to the entry of other retailers are reducing competition.

Mr Kerslake said the NSW Government had completely mismanaged the sale of Macquarie Generation, owner of the Liddell and Bayswater power stations that collectively provide more than a quarter of the state’s power generation capacity.

“The community has been let down by the NSW Government, and in particular the Treasurer who oversaw this botched sale,” Mr Kerslake said.

“It’s been left to the ACCC to save the people of NSW from anti-competitive arrangement that would have reduced competition and forced up power prices.

“If the O’Farrell Government was fair dinkum about delivering the best outcome for the people of NSW they should never have tried to sell Macquarie Generation in the first place.

“Now that the ACCC has called out the NSW Treasurer on his claims that the privatisation of these publicly owned electricity generators would result in greater competition and lower prices, it’s time for Mike Baird to stand up in parliament and apologise to the people of NSW as well as aborting the planned sale of Delta Coastal.”