Barnett backing up on power sale
WA’s Premier is inching away from power privatisation, but the Treasurer says the sale will be made.
Premier Colin Barnett has gone cold on plans to sell Western Power after Labor’s ‘Mediscare’ anti-privatisation campaign during the federal election.
He now says the sale would require strong public support, which appears to be lacking.
But Treasurer Mike Nahan is storming ahead with the privatisation.
“The proposal we put together and put forward will overwhelmingly address all the concerns that the public have,” Dr Nahan said on Sunday.
“And I think it provides the only fiscally responsible approach to undertaking the investment and the capital we need, the state needs, without increasing debt.”
The disunity and delay could impact the state’s credit rating, according to Economist John Nicolaou from ACIL Allen Consulting.
“Given that conservatively the Treasurer did estimate that the sale of Western Power would generate a dividend of around $16 billion and part of that would be to pay down debt, then the ratings agencies would certainly look at that very carefully and would be concerned in relation to the future outlook from a ratings perspective for Western Australia,” Mr Nicolaou told reporters.
“I think the Premier should also look at the recent state election in New South Wales, which came about a year earlier and the Baird Government was re-elected on a platform of privatisation.
“So it shows that if you get the narrative right, if you sell the story to the electorate about the benefits and virtues of privatisation and asset sales then ultimately voters will be taken along that journey and you'll see those positive results over the longer term.”
He said the sale of Western Power would help WA restore its AAA credit rating.