The NSW Labor Opposition has welcomed the NSW Auditor-General’s decision to examine the sale process of Ausgrid.
The Auditor-General has confirmed to Labor that it will review the then Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian’s decision to accept an unsolicited proposal for the sale of Ausgrid.
NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley wrote to the Auditor-General in July requesting a review of the Ausgrid privatisation process.
Labor believes that the Government failed to comply with its own guidelines in accepting an unsolicited proposal, including one that says the purpose of private sector proposals is for the development of new infrastructure. The privatisation of Ausgrid did not involve new infrastructure.
The Government’s claim that the sole winning bid for Ausgrid met the criteria of being ‘unique’ because it was Australian is also highly suspect. The successful consortia of IFM and Australian Super represented only a fraction of Australia’s available capital and there could have been plenty of other Australian bidders.
Labor argues that by limiting the sale to one buyer Treasurer Berejiklian failed to generate any competitive tension and therefore failed to get the best possible price for the asset.
The Government sold 50.4 per cent of long-term lease in the electricity company in October 2016 for $16 billion.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park
“The guidelines make it clear that this process is not designed for the sale of government assets."
“Where is the competitive tension to maximise the sale price? This is like selling your house to the first person who sees it and makes an opening offer."
“It’s high time we got a proper explanation of why the Government sold a valuable asset like Ausgrid to the first bidder without going to auction.
“If there has been an abuse of the system then Gladys Berejiklian, who was Treasurer at the time and responsible for the sale, has some serious questions to answer.”