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ALP: Power privatisation would hurt health, education funding

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson at John Hunter Hospital on Wednesday. Picture: Phil HearneTHE GOVERNMENT’S plan to privatise the state’s electricity network will mean less money for hospitals, schools and TAFEs in the Hunter, Labor politicians claimed on Wednesday.
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Opposition Leader John Robertson, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and member for Charlestown Jodie Harrison spoke with nurses at John Hunter Hospital while on a tour around the region.

They said the nurses were “fearful of further budget cuts if electricity is privatised”.

Mr Robertson said that electricity privatisation would be disastrous for the Hunter.

He said that last year the electricity companies paid $1.7 billion to the Baird Government in dividends and other tax-equivalent payments.

Mr Robertson said this revenue stream would be permanently lost once electricity was privatised.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said: “Our residents will be stuck paying higher electricity prices – while even more money is sucked from local hospitals and schools.”

Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison agreed.

“With the Abbott Government already cutting $25 billion from NSW hospitals and schools, it is severely misguided for the Premier to be killing off crucial revenue that comes to the budget from the electricity companies,” she said.

“Hunter hospitals like John Hunter, Calvary Mater and Belmont are already overstretched, while local TAFEs are slashing courses and staff.

“I understand the Premier will be addressing a business lunch in Newcastle tomorrow.

“My message to him is that services in the Hunter cannot afford more cuts.”

Health Minister Jillian Skinner rejected the concerns voiced by the Labor MPs.

“This is mere politicking by Labor – they continue to put politics before patients,” she said.

“I can assure the community there is no $3 billion cut to health – this is a Labor fabrication.

“This year’s recurrent health budget is $18.7 billion – a 5.2 per cent increase on last year.

“Labor’s last health budget was $15.5 billion.”

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