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Labor calls on Coalition to rule out Service NSW privatisations and selloffs

Geoff Helisma |

As the March 23 NSW election nears, candidates for the seat of Clarence have challenged the Coalition on various issues.

Last week, Country Labor candidate for Clarence Trent Gilbert “joined with shadow treasurer Ryan Park, calling on the Premier Berejiklian to rule out the privatisation of any part of Service NSW”.

“It’s in this government’s DNA to privatise state owned entities under the premise of improving services for the people of NSW,” Mr Gilbert said in a media release.

“However, this rhetoric has been proven false time after time.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals have overseen $70 billion in privatisations since coming to power, including the privatisation of the Lands Title Office.”

The Independent put the following questions to Mr Gilbert: While acknowledging the ramping up of privatisations, didn’t the Coalition government just continue what the former Labor government had done in 2010 and 11, when it privatised the three retail electricity businesses for a total of $3.78billion and the NSW Lotteries for $1.008billion?

Labor also privatised the TAB in 1998 for $1.017billion and there were various other smaller privatisations during the life of that government (1996 to 2011) for a total of around $7.759billion – so why should voters expect a Labor government to not continue what it was doing when previously in government?

Source: Privatisation in NSW: a timeline and key sources from the Parliament of NSW ‘issues backgrounder’, number 2, June 2017.

In an emailed response, which did not directly address the questions, Mr Gilbert said the Coalition had “eroded [the state’s] revenue base and jeopardised essential services”.

“Labor has made this pledge: we will not privatise hospitals, we will not privatise water and we will not further privatise electricity or public transport,” he said.

“No more privatisation.”