NSW Premier Dominic Perot has responded to Labor allegations that it plans to sell Sydney Water, describing it as a “terrifying crackdown on lies”.
In an interview with Sky News on Friday, the NSW premier said privatizing the state-owned company “was never something that was considered by our government, or might ever be” and said the state government’s pipeline of projects was fully funded.
He said the decision to sell WestConnex, which the coalition promised would not be privatized in the run-up to the 2019 state election, was “the right decision given the circumstances” and said the first half of the route had already been sold.
The prime minister has defended privatization as “a good thing when necessary”.
“It was the right decision to sell (WestConnex) this asset, to reinvest in the future construction of the road,” he said.
“I said at the time I had no plans for that.
“It became very clear that it was the right decision to make in those economic times.”
The prime minister said he had “absolutely ruled out” privatizing Sydney’s water.
He said, “I don’t know anyone in the history of our government who has spoken of (selling) Sydney water”.
“Now you have the trade unions cracking down on lies.”
But the opposition seized on the prime minister’s remarks, claiming that the process of privatizing Sydney’s water had already begun.
“Now it’s out in the open; it’s because he thinks he can change his plans at the drop of a hat,” NSW opposition finance ministry spokesman Daniel Mokhi said on Friday.
“He has done this before at WestConnex, and he will do it again with Sydney Water. He misled the NSW crowd and will do it again,” said Mr Mokhi.
Mukhi said the prime minister’s plans would change again after the elections.
“Following today’s comments, the only way to ensure that Sydney’s waters remain in the hands of the public is for the Labor Party to vote on March 25,” said Mr Mokhi.
Also weighing in the debate was Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said on Friday that as a New South Wales resident he did not want to live under a government that privatized assets.
“We need to stop privatizing water and stop selling all our assets,” Mr Albanese said in remarks with NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns.
The prime minister said New South Wales residents deserved fairer treatment, which the Labor government would deliver.
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