The partial lease of electricity assets – referred to locally as “poles and wires” – will proceed after enabling legislation was passed through the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament.
The legislation went through after a fierce debate which saw more than 60 potential amendments tabled by Labor, the Greens and the Christian Democrats. In the end, the governing Liberal party was able to get the legislation passed on a 19-17 vote with the support of the Christian Democrats as Labor and the Greens voted against.
The lease of 49 percent of the state’s poles and wires assets to the private sector for a period of 99 years is expected to deliver revenues of A$20 billion (€13.7 billion; $15.4 billion).
“With that funding we’re going to build the schools, the hospitals, road and rail that we have waited for,” NSW Premier Mike Baird told ABC.
But Greens MP John Kaye responded: “There isn’t anything really in the way for upsides in this legislation for anybody in New South Wales other than the multinational utility operations getting control of this state’s energy future.”
The planned privatisation involves three assets to be sold under 99-year leases: 100 percent of transmission grid owner Transgrid; and 50.4 percent stakes in distributors Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.
Towards the end of last month, listed infrastructure fund Spark Infrastructure confirmed its interest in the poles and wires sales to the Sydney Morning Herald and added that it had joined forces with Melbourne-based fund manager Hastings Funds Management, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Canada’s Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Wren House, which is part of the Kuwait Investment Authority.