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Auditor-General reveals NSW Budget would be $1.3 billion worse off following partial power network sale

- Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The NSW Auditor-General’s report on the publicly owned electricity businesses, released to parliament today, has highlighted that NSW would be $1.3 billion a year worse off if the Liberals and Nationals get their way with electricity privatisation.

The report reported that total revenue to the NSW Treasury, in the form of dividends and tax equivalents, was a bumper $1.7 billion last financial year.

Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake said that had Premier Mike Baird’s privatisation of half the electricity been in place, it would have meant the loss of $436 million in dividends, and $829 million in income tax equivalents.

“Following Mike Baird’s privatisation, the people of NSW will no longer receive this income, leaving a massive $1.3 billion-a-year hole in the State’s finances,” Mr Kerslake said.

Mr Kerslake said the Auditor-General’s report had also undermined efforts by Treasurer Andrew Constance to blame workers for power price rises, revealing that efficiency improvements delivered by those electricity workers had saved consumers $3 billion over the last three years.

“Power workers have been delivering major efficiency improvements across the network, reducing costs while at the same time cutting the number of customers who experienced blackouts,” he said.

“The Auditor General found that increased service reliability was also the direct result of a $15.2 billion network upgrade carried out since 2009.”

The report did come under fire for relying on inaccurate and out-of-date data — supplied by corporate advisor EY to the NSW Treasury — to argue that NSW electricity users pay the highest price for power.

“On consumer pricing, the Auditor-General has got it wrong, but only because they have relied on inaccurate and outdated data from a politically motivated report produced for the NSW Treasury,” Mr Kerslake said.

“That report compares NSW prices from 2012 to South Australian prices from 2010 to conclude that NSW electricity bills are the highest in the country.

“On the other hand, the latest report from the Federal Government’s Australian Energy Regulator, based on data from 2013, found South Australia has the highest average electricity bill — at $2,335 per annum — while the average NSW consumer pays $1,960.

“Despite his best efforts to drive his ideological privatisation agenda, the numbers simply don’t add up for Premier Mike Baird.”