Victoria Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien
Batchelor Admits $800 Million Smart Meter Blowout
Victor P Taffa
The Minister for Energy today admitted that the cost to Victorian electricity users of the Brumby Government’s smart meter debacle has at least doubled to $1.6 Billion from the project’s original price tag of $800 Million.
Facing Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, Minister Batchelor was asked if he stood by his claim in the Parliament on 9 March 2010 that ‘there has not been a cost blow out’ in the smart meter project.
Under questioning by Coalition MPs, the Minister admitted that the cost of the smart meter project had blown out to $1.6 Billion. The Brumby Government has determined that the entire cost of the project is to be paid for by Victorian families and small businesses through higher electricity bills.
“The Minister has now admitted that Victorian families will be at least $800 Million worse off because of this massive smart meter cost blowout.” Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien said today.
“The Auditor-General found that the Brumby Government had not maintained proper scrutiny of this project. The cost of that failure to Victorian families is now becoming clear.
“Victorian families now face much higher electricity bills because of the Brumby Government’s $800 Million smart meter stuff up.” Mr. O’Brien said.
The Minister’s figure of $1.6 Billion is still less than the $2.25 Billion cited in the Auditor-General’s report, suggesting that the pain for Victorian electricity users may get worse.
The Brumby Government has also admitted it is proposing a $1 Million pre-election advertising blitz to attempt to spin the government’s failure over smart meters.
“Having blown hundreds of millions of dollars on the smart meter bungle, the Brumby Government is now wasting more taxpayers’ money on advertising to cover up its failure.” Mr. O’Brien said.
“It is obscene for Victorians to have to pay double for this smart meter blowout and then pay again to be told how well the Brumby Government has managed the project.”
“The Brumby Government can spend and it can spin, but it just can’t deliver when it counts.” Mr. O’Brien said.