Thursday, 15 August 2019
After weeks of calling on Essential Energy to pull back on 182 proposed job cuts in rural and regional NSW, three of which would be within the Northern Tablelands electorate, I am yet to receive a guarantee from the organisation that it will reverse this decision.
Following the March election, the NSW Government, via the Premier, announced there would be no public sector country NSW job losses and as a government body, the community and I expect Essential Energy to follow suit.
Rural and regional NSW is the backbone of this state and as we continue to suffer through the worst drought on record, job losses are the last thing our communities need.
I have made every effort to discuss this issue with personally with Essential Energy and despite promises that CEO John Cleland would return my calls and meet with me in Parliament last week**, this CEO and state-owned corporation refuses to comply with government policy.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has now written to the Minister for Energy and Environment, who has the ministerial authority to give a direction to the state-owned corporation to halt these job losses in rural and regional NSW.
The Deputy Premier has requested the Minister and the Minister’s agency to direct Essential Energy to not proceed with proposed job cuts and to work with the Electrical Trades Union to find alternative efficiencies and opportunities within the organisation.
I wholeheartedly support the Deputy Premier and this course of action and will be urging the responsible Minister to accede to the request, but I also insist on this:
Mr Cleland won’t abide by government policy, he won’t even keep meetings nor return phone calls of local MPs, so he should no longer keep his job. His arrogance and contempt for country people – his customers – is as astounding as it is unacceptable and he should do the honourable thing now and stand aside. If he does not, he should be sacked.
The government established its policy for a reason, to help support country communities through the toughest time we’ve faced in a very long time. Everyone else in government is abiding by this policy and Essential Energy should be brought to heel.
I continue to fight Essential Energy on this issue on behalf of my community and our local hard-working Essential Energy staff. I will keep the community informed about progress on this critical matter.
** An appointment was scheduled with Mr Cleland and the Essential Energy Board Chairman to meet with Mr Marshall in his Parliament House office at 1pm on Thursday, 8 August. This was cancelled the afternoon before (7 August) by Essential Energy, which then refused to commit to another meeting time, despite Mr Marshall’s request.