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Budget shows electricity network is NSW’s most valuable income-generating asset, delivering state $1.42 billion

Jun 17, 2014

NSW Budget papers have confirmed that the electricity poles and wires remain the most valuable income generating asset for the people of NSW, with network businesses delivering $1.42 billion in dividends and income tax equivalents to the budget bottom-line.

The Stop the Sell Off campaign said the Budget had also highlighted that essential infrastructure investments can occur without power privatisation, with $10.2 billion provided for infrastructure funding without a cent coming from the proposed poles and wires privatisation.

The Budget also revealed that the ongoing income from the four publicly-owned poles and wires businesses — Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy and TransGrid — delivered a greater windfall than all other state owned corporations combined.

These electricity transmission and distribution businesses paid dividends of $874 million, along with income tax equivalents of $546 million.

Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake said that without the massive public profits from poles and wires businesses, the Budget surplus would have been less than a third of the almost $1 billion announced.

“Last week Premier Mike Baird revealed his plan to sell 49 per cent of the electricity network to private owners, meaning future revenue from the electricity network to the NSW Government will effectively be halved,” Mr Kerslake said.

“Had this sale already occurred, the public would have missed out on half of this $1.42 billion windfall.

“While the Premier and Treasurer crow about the Budget surplus, they refuse to acknowledge that without the income from the parts of the electricity network they plan to sell, that surplus would have been slashed by $696 million.

“At a time when tax revenue is under pressure, it is madness to sell off the largest profit-making asset that the people of NSW own, forever losing that reliable income stream.”

Mr Kerslake also said that the Budget had debunked attempts by the NSW Government to blame workers or unions for electricity network costs, showing the publicly-owned businesses had reduced forecast capital expenditure over the next three years by over $2 billion.

“The Budget papers state that the massive investment cycle that has been driving network costs has now finished, with more modest capital investment needs allowing huge savings going forward,” he said.

“If the NSW Government gets away with selling the electricity network now it will mean taxpayers would have footed the bill for expensive upgrades only for the benefits of that work to be handed over to the private sector.”

Media comment: Adam Kerslake — 0425 231 820
Media contacts: Paul Lister (0408 231 858) and Tim Vollmer (0404 273 313)