Today Abigail secured the release of documents pertaining to the sale and potential contamination of Macquarie Generation Assets (Liddell Power Station) after her SO52 motion passed the NSW Upper House.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: I move:
That private members' business item No. 764 outside the order of precedence be considered in a short form format.
Motion agreed to.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (17:01:22): I move:
That, under Standing Order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House, in electronic format if possible, within 14 days of the date of passing of this resolution the following documents in the possession, custody or control of the Treasurer, the Treasury, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Minister for Energy and Environment or the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment:
(a)all documents relating to, and including, the contract for the sale of the Macquarie Generation assets, including the Liddell Power Station and the Bayswater Power Station, to AGL Energy Limited; and
(b)any legal or other advice regarding the scope or validity of this order of the House created as a result of this order of the House.
Members of this House would be well aware that the Public Works Committee is conducting an inquiry into the State Government's liability for the rehabilitation of coal ash repositories as a result of its privatisation of coal‑fired power stations. The inquiry was sparked by findings from a call for papers in relation to Eraring and Vales Point power stations, which revealed the nature of the State's residual liabilities in relation to contamination and rehabilitation at those sites. In addition to the Eraring and Vales Point sites, the inquiry is now looking at a number of other power station sites, including Liddell and Bayswater coal‑fired power stations. Late last year a further call for papers revealed the extent of contamination at those sites and the State Government's continued involvement in the operations of those privatised coal‑fired power stations.
To complete the picture for the purposes of the committee's inquiry, this motion calls for production of the sale documents from the Liddell and Bayswater privatisations. Significant questions exist over the Government's involvement in those power stations and its potential conflict of interest in connection with their proposed closure, particularly that of Liddell, and their repurposing. The sale documents will help to clarify those issues. The people of this State were the vendors in those transactions. They deserve to know what the Government has signed them up for. Given the public interest in ensuring the proper management of the State's assets and finances, I ask members to support the motion.
In reply: I thank all members who contributed to the debate on the motion. I start with the contribution from the Hon. Taylor Martin, who referred to it as a fishing expedition. The previous calls for papers on the issue of power station privatisations and coal ash contamination led not only to significant findings that explain the conflict of interest the Government has in relation to the rehabilitation of those sites and the regulation of that rehabilitation but also to calls for an inquiry for the Public Works Committee. So to say that any of those orders made under Standing Order 52 were a fishing expedition is clearly diminishing the impact of what those documents revealed. When it comes to the commercial‑in‑confidence argument, as we saw when we called for the sales contracts for the Vales Point and Eraring power stations, we did end up receiving those documents. They were marked commercial in confidence. There was not an issue there. I assume that we will see a similar approach from Treasury to these documents.
In relation to the contribution of the Hon. Trevor Khan, I am pleased that he is enjoying the inquiry. I am also enjoying the inquiry. It is great to see committee members as well as members of the public generally being more informed around the toxic coal ash dumps that we have across this State, their impact on the environment and health, and the risks that they present. That inquiry was set up because of the liabilities of this Government that resulted from the Vales Point and Eraring power station privatisations. If the Hon. Trevor Khan were to read the terms of reference of the Public Works Committee, he would see that we can only use that committee for an inquiry when talking about liabilities of over $10 million of the State. That is why that inquiry is being heard there. This is incredibly relevant to that inquiry.
I am happy to accept the Hon. Adam Searle's amendment. I will say that I am not going to shy away from holding the Government to account on coal‑fired power station deals because the more we read and the more documents we receive, the more we can see the inherent conflict of interest in the State having residual liabilities and then also being responsible for determining the quantum of those liabilities through its regulation and rehabilitation of these sites. We need to get to the bottom of that. I commend this motion to the House.
For the full transcript of the debate visit the NSW Parliament website.