Andrew Constance welcomes unlocked 'poles and wires' funds

NSW Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

NSW Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

NSW Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance has welcomed the announcement by Premier Mike Baird to unlock $20billion in infrastructure funding, including $6billion for regional NSW, by undertaking a long-term lease of 49 per cent of the “poles and wires” network businesses.

The NSW Government is proposing to lease 49 per cent of the total network sector while leaving Essential Energy in public hands.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government is determined to rebuild NSW and improve the lives of families in the South East and right across the state,” Mr Constance said.

“I’m honoured to represent our local community in the greatest state in the greatest country on earth, but I also know a number of significant challenges have built up.

“Whether it be our local or major roads, our schools and hospitals, or our water infrastructure, they have not kept up with our growing population.

“Both our quality of life - whether it be the productivity of our workplaces or the time we are able to spend with family and friends - is suffering.

“I embarked into public service to make a real difference, and this plan will ensure we are rebuilding NSW and making the Bega electorate a stronger and better community.

“This is about our generation making decisions today to make things better for future generations.

“Unlike NSW Labor, I am not prepared to let these problems continue, so that they drag down our economy and pose even greater challenges for our children and grandchildren.”

Highlights of Rebuilding NSW include:

Schools and Hospitals Building Fund - at least $2billion for health and education infrastructure;

Sports and Cultural Fund - at least $2billion to improve and build venues to attract major events and tourism;

Regional Roads Fund - at least $1billion to upgrade the road network in regional NSW;

Regional Water Fund – at least $1billion for water quality & security in regional NSW.

“I expect Labor and the unions to run nothing but a scare campaign that will simply not be backed up by facts.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has put an end to the crippling annual double-digit price rises that occurred under Labor, and we will continue to implement policies that will reduce electricity bills for local families.

“In line with the NSW Liberals & Nationals commitment before the 2011 election, I am now seeking the support of Bega voters for this plan at the next election, before any action will be taken” Mr Constance said.

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MEANWHILE, Opposition Leader John Robertson said Mike Baird’s decision to privatise electricity will deliver higher electricity bills for families – and NSW will lose more than $1billion each year to invest in nurses, teachers, police and infrastructure.

“What we have seen from Mike Baird is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and spin,” Mr Robertson said.

“Mike Baird has not announced a single cent for any extra infrastructure – instead he has announced a committee will look at a range of added infrastructure.

“Mike Baird has simply put forward an infrastructure mirage that will come at the cost of every family across NSW through their electricity bills.

“What we do know is that privatisation has driven up electricity prices in South Australia and Victoria.

“In fact, according to the independent energy regulator, South Australia now has the highest electricity prices in the whole country – despite the then Liberal Government promising to reduce prices.

“No private company will spend billions of dollars buying the electricity network and then give families a reduction on their electricity bills.  Any private company will make NSW families pay for their profits.”

“The more than $1billion the state currently receives from the electricity network that it reinvests to fund essential services like our hospitals, nurses, schools, teachers, police and infrastructure will now be lost.”

Mr Robertson said Mike Baird was trying to con the public into believing that the privatisation of electricity was a magic pudding to fund infrastructure.

“This is not the silver bullet to infrastructure that Mike Baird has claimed. The sale of our electricity network comes at a cost – and that cost will be felt by families right across the state through higher electricity bills.

“Labor will fight for families against these higher electricity prices.  This is deal is simply bad for families and the future of the state.”

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