Shed some light, Morris

COFFS Harbour MP Andrew Fraser has called on NSW Premier Morris Iemma to switch on the lights and come clean on plans to sell off the state's electricity supply.

Labor Government MPs held a caucus meeting at parliament house yesterday, with no vote held on privatising the electricity sector.

The move came after they were soundly beaten by a 7-1 majority in a vote at the NSW Labor conference in Sydney on saturday.

Mr Iemma now plans to push ahead with the sell-off.

But he has not given made any details public - and that angers Mr Fraser and his opposition colleagues.

"We are now fearful of price rises," said Mr Fraser.

"We have been kept in the dark and have no idea of what impact this will have on the people of Coffs Harbour or regional NSW."

Taking a break in parliamentary proceedings, Mr Fraser added he feared for the jobs of power workers and said deals were now being done between the state government and union officials to smooth it through.

"As I speak now, Joe Tripodi is leading a group of union officials downstairs to do a deal," he said.

"What frightens me is there may be no need for any legislation to allow them to sell off a prized asset.

"And with Coffs Harbour sitting on one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the state, I want to protect jobs."

Mr Fraser said his party might have been seen to support a move to privatise the industry, but with no guarantees to the future of jobs or price rises, he would oppose any move.

"I have no problems with the private sector wortking in essential services," he said.

"But there must be guarantees for the public.

"And we must protect jobs in regional areas, and that is why I oppose the move."

And the MP questioned what would happen to the $16 billion a sale would reap for the government.

"How much of that will be spent on upgrading the Pacific Highway?" he asked.


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