THE state Labor opposition is referring the sale of Vales Point power station to the NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford.
Labor’s upper house leader and energy spokesperson, Adam Searle, told the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday that he was meeting the auditor-general on Thursday to discuss the issue.
The Herald reported that Vales Point’s owner since November 2015 – a company called Sunset Power, associated with coal Rich Lister Brian Flannery and electricity industry veteran Trevor St Baker – had the power station valued in its books at $730 million, compared with the $1 million it paid the state government.
“I want to say that this is a shocking and disturbing revelation, that the premier, while treasurer, sold a public asset for $1 million, and less than two years later it’s apparently worth $730 million,” Mr Searle said on Wednesday.
“Someone is having a lend of community and it looks like taxpayers have been shortchanged by this government’s approach to electricity privatisation.
“So great is our concern that I have taken the unusual step of referring the sale to the auditor-general for investigation. I think the NSW community is entitled to get some straight answers as to what happened in this transaction.”
Mr Searle acknowledged that the choice whether to investigate or not was the auditor-general’s, but he believed that from what was in the public arena there were solid grounds for looking at the sale.
“This government has done everything to drive electricity prices up in this state, and selling Vales Point was one of those things, because the new operator has charged the community more for its electricity than the state did when it owned it,” Mr Searle said.
“So privatising is just one of many steps that have directly resulted in higher electricity prices.”