DUBBO MP Troy Grant has hit back at claims by the Electrical Trades Union that Essential Energy will be sold off after next year’s NSW state election, describing them as a scare campaign.
Lobby group Stop the Sell Off has been touring the western region and organisers including ETU secretary Steve Butler claimed as many as 200 jobs could be lost from Dubbo if the government goes back on a promise to exclude Essential Energy from the deal.
However, Mr Grant said Essential Energy wasn’t for sale and reiterated that the proposal the government will take to the next state election in March is a 99-year lease rather than a sell off.
He said the deal was a dual win for regional NSW and the Dubbo electorate, with jobs saved and a windfall of as much as $6 billion to be spent on infrastructure.
“I understand that regional communities want guarantees that regional jobs will be protected, which is why we have moved that Essential Energy be excluded from the partial lease of the state’s electricity distribution network,” Mr Grant said.
“The Electrical Trades Union and the Labor Party are only trying to stir up a scare campaign that regional NSW will lose jobs as a result of this government’s once-in-a-generation proposal to lease 49 per cent of the network, and deliver a huge windfall for visionary infrastructure projects but there can be no trust in the commentary from Labor and the unions.”
The decision by Networks NSW not to take on any apprentices for the first half of 2015 was made on logic, not a political stunt to make the companies seem more appealing to potential buyers, Mr Grant said.
“Employers change the structure of their businesses from year to year, so it’s not surprising that the future number of apprentices recruited by Networks NSW will vary depending on the needs of their customers and the network,” he explained.
“Networks NSW has advised they will re-commence recruitment – based on business need, rather than location – for 2015 after a review of their business proposal by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) later this year.”
Meanwhile Stop the Sell Off was in Parkes, one of three training centres for Essential Energy, and Mr Butler reiterated his claims that the company will be sold.
He said the number of apprentices taken on by Essential Energy had plummeted since the coalition came to power.
“In 2011, 129 new apprentices started work with Essential Energy across regional NSW, but by this year that number had plunged to just 30, with not one new apprentice starting next year,” he said.
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