MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has today has called on all parties and candidates contesting the upcoming election to join with him and his Nationals colleagues in opposing the Australian Energy Regulator’s draft electricity network determination, which could see hundreds of jobs slashed across the New England and North West.
Mr Marshall has again expressed his grave concerns about threats to the future of the country electricity distribution network if the federal regulator and city-based political interests have their way.
“I’m very worried that all the hard work in fighting to keep our local poles and wires network in 100 per cent public ownership will be undone by a proposal of the Australian Energy Regulator, which would decimate Essential Energy,” Mr Marshall said.
“Despite the fact the regulator wants to cut Essential Energy’s revenue by 27 per cent and its capital investment by 60 per cent over the next five years, meaning massive job losses and rural depot closures, no one is talking about it.
“This could result in the loss of around 50 jobs in the Northern Tablelands and the closure of several smaller depots.
“In response to this threat we’ve seen the city-based Labor Party support the AER’s draft determination and the Greens and other candidates stay mute, which means they are either ignorant about the impacts on country communities or are simply happy to see people in rural and remote areas experience degradation in the reliability and safety of their electricity supply.”
While he respects the need for some areas of the State to have a city-based discussion about the virtues or drawbacks of privatisation, Mr Marshall said that here in the bush, he and his Nationals colleagues had fought that battle and won, so the discussion should be focussed firmly on the AER and what final decision it will make.
“The AER has to potential to devastate rural communities access to a safe, reliable and affordable electricity supply long into the future, yet it would seem all but a few of the major players don’t want to talk about it,” he said.
“The community needs to be aware of what is proposed and where our leaders, parties and candidates stand on this issue.
“My stance is clear, and that of the Nationals too – we are defending rural people, their access to a safe and reliable electricity supply and the jobs of our Essential Energy employees.”
Last month Mr Marshall lodged a submission to the AER on behalf of the Northern Tablelands electorate firmly opposing the AER draft determination on the grounds that it does not adequately address the current reform program, does not account for impacts on network reliability, uses inappropriate comparators and doesn’t recognise the impact on regional apprenticeships.
“It’s a shallow economic rationalist assessment of the electricity networks across rural NSW that if implemented will jeopardise jobs and the safety and reliability of electricity supply in the bush,” Mr Marshall said in his submission.