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Polling reveals overwhelming opposition to electricity privatisation in regional NSW

Jun 4, 2014

An independent poll of 2,892 voters in four key regional electorates has revealed overwhelming opposition to the NSW Government’s proposed privatisation of the electricity poles and wires.

The Stop the Sell Off campaign commissioned the ReachTEL survey of voters in four key National Party-held regional NSW seats: Ballina, Dubbo, Port Macquarie and Tamworth.

The poll, carried out on Monday night, found just 14 per cent of voters in those electorates support the privatisation of the state owned electricity poles and wires network, while 70.3 per cent are opposed.

Asked what impact they thought privatisation would have on power prices, 82.1 per cent said prices would increase, while just 6 per cent believed they would decrease.

Only 12.6 per cent said they would support a sale if the money was used to build roads and other infrastructure, while 83 per cent said the electricity network was an essential service that should be owned and operated by the state.

When asked about a partial sale of just 49 per cent of the electricity network, which has been speculated about in recent media reports, support still remained at a staggeringly low 17.1 per cent.

And in a worrying sign for the sitting MPs, 45.3 per cent of those polled said that a sale of the poles and wires would make them less likely to vote for The Nationals at the election in March.

Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake said he was blown away by the overwhelming opposition to the privatisation of the electricity network — which cut across all ages, genders and electorates — saying the results should be a wake-up call for the NSW Premier.

“I can’t think of any other political policy or proposal where the community sentiment has been so consistently opposed,” Mr Kerslake said.

“This poll is the most detailed snapshot undertaken of the views of regional NSW to the Premier’s push to privatise the electricity network and it sends a clear message that these communities believe a sale will lead to higher prices and poorer services.”

Mr Kerslake said the Stop the Sell Off campaign had commissioned the polling ahead of the NSW National Party conference next week to provide regional MPs with information on the views of their local constituents ahead of a debate on the issue.

“The people of regional NSW have spoken,” he said.

“Now it is up to their local MPs to take this message to the National Party conference and advocate for the retention of the electricity poles and wires in public hands.

“Last year the party’s state conference passed an unanimous motion rejecting electricity network privatisation, but Premier Mike Baird and his mates in the big end of town have continued to bully National Party MPs to try and get them to support a sale.

“National Party MPs need to stand up to the Premier on this issue.”

Mr Kerslake said he believed part of the reason for the overwhelming poll results were the experiences regional communities have had with past privatisations.

“In the last couple decades we’ve seen the privatisation of banks, telecommunications and aviation, and each time regional communities have suffered reductions to services, increased costs, job losses, and an impact on their local economy,” he said.

“We won’t rest until the NSW Government backs down from this plan and commits to retaining Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy and TransGrid — the companies that own and operate every power line in the state — in public ownership.”

Full ReachTEL poll results attached.

Ballina – ReachTel Electricity Poll
Dubbo – ReachTel Electricity Poll
Port Macquarie – ReachTel Electricity Poll
Tamworth – ReachTel Electricity Poll

Media comment: Adam Kerslake — 0425 231 820

Further information: Paul Lister — 0408 231 858