Victor P Taffa
When former Premier Bob Carr announced that the New South Wales electricity industry would be sold off the finances of the State were in good shape and the value of the power industry was sound. Thinking that the sell off was a fait accompli no money was put into the electricity infrastructure as the Government thought it was only a matter of time before the problem was ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
Many years ago the Sydney County Council was corporatised and became Energy Australia a former Chairman who did not wish to be named said that “The hollow logs were raided leaving us with no financial reserves.”
The process of raiding the ‘hollow logs’ began in the 1970s and was perfected by former Premier Neville Wran who went through all of the State Government enterprises and transferred the funds into consolidated revenue. The effect of this meant that the electricity industry and other Government instrumentalities had no cash reserves for infrastructure renewal thus rendering the State’s electricity industry either worthless or devalued to the point where no company would buy it.
Fast forward to 2009 and Sydney has had 2 power blackouts within a week. Why has this occurred?
Already the State Government has trotted out the usual “the government regrets that any inconvenience has been caused and would like to apologise etc….”and my response is that the State Government has more spin cycles than a washing machine. Whether it is the Premier, Minister or power company official the result is the same. In life action speaks louder than words and all the people of New South Wales are getting is more of the same worn out clichéd responses.
Whether it is water pipes, electricity maintenance or badly needed railway lines new infrastructure is needed and needed now. As the State Government cannot afford to expand its own public heavy railways they palm off their responsibility under the guise of a private Metro Rail line being the ‘way of the future.’
New South Wales requires new railway lines and additional tracks on every rail corridor. Electrification of all railway lines should be regarded as essential and not essentially an afterthought. In order to electrify every railway line throughout New South Wales our Government would need to build at least one new power station. Whether a new power station is solar, wind or coal fired is a debate that is yet to occur.
The fact is New South Wales needs a new power station and power maintenance and to delay both is to be irresponsible to say the least and a dereliction of its duty at worst.
Recently I heard of a patient in Ward 10D of the 23 Hour unit in the ‘brown building’ at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital. This ward in which was recently refurbished and is soon to be demolished with a new facility. The patient bathroom had no power point on the wall and he needed to use an electric shaver. When he asked for a hand held mirror the staff told him that there was not one. It was soon apparent that a basic such as shaving your face while in hospital was impossible.
In the general scheme of things a power point is insignificant. What is significant is the inability of the State Government to deliver on the most basic items because the Government has run out of money.
Where has all the money gone? It is too late to blame the worldwide economic downturn.
When elected in 1995 the State Government was flush with money. Basically the State is the same ‘basket case’ that South Australia and Victoria became a few years ago.
It is with a sense of relief that electricity privatisation has not yet eventuated. Had privatisation occurred the proceeds would have disappeared faster than you could say ‘jack robinson’ or ‘gone to gowings’.
The irony in this is if a power point cannot be provided so a patient can have a shave in a refurbished hospital ward that is soon to be demolished how you could trust the State Government to privatise electricity defies gravity. What more can be said?
How can you trust the Government to continue running New South Wales?
Would the last person to leave New South Wales please switch off the lights.