Premier Daniel Andrews’ claim that the State Electricity Commission (SEC) would “replace offshore profits with offshore wind” has come under fire as it was revealed that the re-launched SEC will be open to foreign co-investment.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said the failure to preclude foreign companies from co-investing was government hypocrisy. It has also been revealed that, far from being a government owned monopoly like the old SEC, Labor’s “new” SEC will generate less than 20 per cent of Victoria’s electricity.
“The Premier railed against foreign corporations and privatisation ahead of the election but the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) recently heard there will be no prohibition on foreign companies bidding for SEC money. We were also told that the SEC would co-invest to deliver 4500 GW of new electricity generation out of an anticipated 25,0000 GW by 2035.
“The return of the SEC is not what the government made it out to be – Victorians were conned by feel good nostalgia. It was touted as a jobs boon for the Latrobe Valley but there is now not even a commitment that the head office will be in Morwell.”
At the recent PAEC budget hearing, Mr O’Brien questioned Interim Chief Executive Officer of the SEC, Chris Miller as to whether the SEC intended to establish the head office in Morwell.
“Mr Miller would not confirm the intended location of the SEC head office, instead saying that the SEC will have “a presence” in Morwell through renting office space in the established GovHub. I was not able to obtain any clear answers on how many employees the SEC will have in Morwell – only that the current 29 employees are all located in Melbourne.”
Mr O’Brien sought an explanation of the government’s oft-repeated claim that Labor would “bring back the SEC to create 59,000 jobs”.
“The answer clearly showed the SEC will not employ even close to that number of people. The jobs Labor is taking credit for are those created by private renewable energy projects – most of which will go ahead with or without the SEC.”
“The Andrews Labor Government’s policy decisions have gutted our local industries time and time again and it is increasingly evident that the SEC will do little to improve this situation.”
Mr O’Brien said the Government failed to make a case for the SEC in the Budget hearings.
“It was clear the SEC will seek to invest in projects that were going ahead anyway, there is no guidance on the percentage of government-ownership in projects and no set rate of return for the investment of taxpayers’ money”.