Contracts reveal NSW public ripped off by Liberals’ energy privatisation

Documents released following a Greens motion in the NSW Upper House have revealed the 2015 sale of Vales Point power station leaves NSW exposed to potentially billions of dollars in liabilities.

Gladys Berejiklian, Treasurer at the time, charged Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery just $1 million for the right to operate Vales Point. Yet St Baker and Flannery valued Vales Point at $730 million in 2017. At the same time the community has suffered increased electricity costs of around 60% and the State retains the cost of cleaning up the site.

This Government tried to justify the $1 million price tag by reference to the amount of liabilities transferred to the purchasers on ‘sale’. These documents reveal that those liabilities were limited to $68 million at most – a trivial amount for St Baker and Flannery, given that they apparently cleared $90 million in their first year of operation.

Abigail Boyd, Greens MP in the NSW upper house and a former corporate and finance lawyer said:

“Once again we see that while companies profit, communities are left to pay.

“The Government has effectively sold off the income stream generated from the power station while leaving the public on the hook for potentially billions of dollars in rehabilitation and clean up.

“This is just the latest giveaway to private investors - we now know that the State is also responsible for rehabilitation and clean up in relation to Eraring, Bayswater, Liddell and Colongra power stations.

“Just this week, a report by Environmental Justice Australia highlighted how the lack of regulation of toxic coal ash waste is risking community health and wrecking fragile environments.

“The Berejiklian and Baird Government’s privatisation agenda has been a disaster for NSW communities while making no real improvements to the State’s finances.

“The public deserves to know exactly how much it will cost to clean up the mess caused by decades of contamination in and around these power station sites.

“Claiming an $800 million surplus is a bit silly when you are simultaneously failing to account for billions of dollars in future liabilities.

“This Government is showing once again that it’s all smoke and mirrors when it comes to their financial management of our State,” said Abigail Boyd.

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