Power a political game

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry has found New South Wales should partially privatise its power grid, almost guaranteeing the plan will pass through parliament.

Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile demanded the inquiry before he would support the 49% lease of the state's "poles and wires" assets.

He holds the balance of power in the upper house and chaired the committee, backing the scheme as being "in the best interests of the state" on Tuesday.

The committee's final report found leasing electricity infrastructure was likely to cut down power prices without negatively affecting safety and reliability.

It recommended the NSW Government lease 100% of TransGrid and 50.4% each of Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.

It also called for the powers of the Electricity Price Commissioner to be reviewed in 12 months. Mr Nile said he would not back the plan unless workers' jobs were guaranteed for five years.

"It is clear that workers are worried about how they will be affected," he said.

"We have therefore recommended that the enabling legislation include strong employment protection guarantees, such as: at least five years continued employment with the new employer, transfer of all accrued employee entitlements, including annual, long service and sick leave, recognition of prior service, and a sufficient number of apprenticeship opportunities."

Almost half of the committee members voted against the privatisation plan.

- APN NEWSDESK



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