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Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit recommends Snowy Hydro for privatisation within two years

May 1, 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s National Commission of Audit, released this afternoon, has recommended the full privatisation of Snowy Hydro Limited, saying a sale should occur in the “short term”, between 2014 and 2016.

The recommendation follows a similar proposal in the NSW Government’s own commission of audit, which also recommended the privatisation of Snowy Hydro – a public asset jointly owned by the Federal, NSW and Victorian Governments.

Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake said the worst fears of the local community were being realised, with wall-to-wall Coalition Government’s pressing ahead with plans for the sell off of this vital piece of infrastructure.

“The Abbott Government, along with its Coalition colleagues in Sydney and Melbourne, see Snowy Hydro as a potential cash cow, but they are showing absolutely no regard for the impact that a sale would have on the local community,” Mr Kerslake said.

“Any buyer will already have an established head office elsewhere, meaning 200 quality jobs in Cooma would be cut overnight, while reductions to maintenance and operational jobs would likely see the region lose more than 400 positions in total.

“The impact of this would be devastating, stripping close to $30 million a year out of the local economy, which would hit small businesses throughout the region.”

Mr Kerslake said the planets were now clearly aligning for a sale, with the Federal and NSW Government’s commissions of audit both recommending a sale, and the Victorian Government refusing to follow through on it’s promise from 2010 to change the state’s constitution to ensure the Snowy Hydro scheme is never privatised.

He said the release of the National Commission of Audit required an immediate public response from local MPs about exactly where they stand on the proposed sale.

“Member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy and Member for Monaro John Barilaro can’t sit on the fence on this issue any more,” Mr Kerslake said.

“Both their governments have now carried out commissions of audit that have recommended the complete sale of Snowy Hydro.

“Both men have attempted to claim talk of a sale was a union scare campaign, but the recommendation that this public asset be sold within two years reveals that this was absolutely not the case.

“Mr Hendy needs to publicly declare his position, and state whether or not he will fight for his local constituents or roll over for Tony Abbott.

“Prior to the 2013 Federal Election, Mr Hendy told this local community that they had nothing to worry about when it came to Snowy Hydro, but this clearly wasn’t true.

“Mr Barilaro also has an obligation to put an end to this privatisation push by sitting down with NSW Premier Mike Baird and demanding that he publicly rule out any sale of Snowy Hydro.”

Mr Kerslake also took a swipe at some local voices that have attempted to discredit the Stop The Sell Off campaign by describing it as union scare-mongering.

“Time has revealed that our concerns were absolutely on the money,” he said.

“There has never been any question that prominent voices within the business community and the Liberal and National parties have been advocating for this sale for some time.

“The release of the National Commission of Audit only confirms that their lobbying has been successful, and the Snowy Hydro scheme — along with many of the local jobs it provides — is squarely on the chopping block.”

The National Commission of Audit recommendation regarding the privatisation of Snowy Hydro Limited can be found here.

Media comment: Adam Kerslake — 0425 231 820

Further information: Paul Lister — 0408 231 858