Claims that I voted for the sale of the State’s Electricity Distribution assets as implied in Steve Whan’s NSW Capital Watch column (July 2014) are totally false. I was opposed to privatisation of the state’s electricity distribution assets and voted against it.
Although the majority of my colleagues disagreed with my position, I am pleased that the hard line that I and some of my colleagues took has resulted in a policy compromise that will be a net benefit our community. The compromise will see the lease of only the metropolitan distribution companies with a series of tight conditions, and the retention in public hands of Essential Energy, which services our local area.
Our local poles and wires network will remain in public hands, which is a big win for the Monaro region. Our local jobs and level of service are secure. Although we aren’t leasing our regional assets, we will still get 30 percent of proceeds from the metropolitan lease, which will include $4 billion in regional infrastructure funds.
Of course, unlike the former Labor Government, we will seek a mandate from the people prior to taking action on this front. Although I would have preferred to have everything go my way, I am confident that this is a policy that I can take to the voters of Monaro at the next election for their endorsement. The choice will be clear between someone who is willing to be outspoken against their own government to fight for better local outcomes, or a Labor candidate who toes the party line no matter how unreasonable.
John Barilaro (Member for Monaro)