FEDERAL Member for Eden Monaro Mike Kelly has warned of significant job losses in Queanbeyan and the surrounding region should the NSW Government go ahead with its planned sell-off of state electricity assets.
NSW Government Treasurer Mike Baird announced plans for the sell-off last week, saying it would raise $3 billion to finance infrastructure projects across NSW.
Those figures however, have been disputed by the Electrical Trades Union which claims any actual windfall from the sale of electricity assets would be around $1 billion, a third of the NSW Government's figures.
The NSW Government has earmarked funds from the sell-off planned to go toward transport, school and hospital projects across the state. But Dr Kelly has hit back at the proposal, arguing such a sale would put local jobs at risk and raising the prospect of local electricity networks falling under foreign ownership.
"If we sold off all our electricity assets…we wouldn't have control anymore," Dr Kelly said.
"We'd be at the mercy of those foreign companies when they want to slash and burn and rationalise.
"Of course country areas like [Queanbeyan would] be the first cab off the rank, the first victims in any global company's plans to rationalise. They'd come to us."
"I struggle to understand why the NSW Government is so determined to sell Snowy Hydro and our electricity network. They provide so much for our community by way of highly skilled jobs, irreplaceable training and apprentice opportunities and money for our local schools, hospitals and roads."
Dr Kelly also said electricity prices would "inevitably go up" in rural and regional areas as a result of the sale.
The planned sell-off has also left local power industry workers concerned, with one claiming any job cuts as a result of the sale would likely directly impact Essential Energy which employs 300 people in Queanbeyan.
The worker, who spoke to the Queanbeyan Age on the condition of anonymity, also warned privatisation of electricity networks could lead to lower working standards in the industry. "My biggest worry about the sell-off is one of safety," he said.
"You sell these things off to multi-conglomerates and the safety standard drops.
"We are an essential service; we have highly skilled staff who have to go through huge regimes in safety and training, what's going to happen when it's sold off? We deal with private contractors already who flout the rules."