Nationals given a power cut

POLES APART: Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has backed the proposed lease of electricity infrastructure in the hope it will help bring a second Grafton bridge.
POLES APART: Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has backed the proposed lease of electricity infrastructure in the hope it will help bring a second Grafton bridge.

NATIONALS MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has voted with his party to back the State Government's proposed sell-off of electricity infrastructure.

"The party was aware I opposed the sale and my opposition was noted but consensus was reached in the party room," Mr Gulaptis said.

An agreement to quarantine Essential Energy from the offer, along with a share of an estimated $20 billion windfall, was the deciding factor.

"With Essential Energy exempt from the deal it will remain in public hands and retain control of the poles and lines," Mr Gulaptis said. "There will be no loss of jobs and no change to the status quo in the Clarence Valley and regional NSW... it's probably one of the best outcomes."

The deal could see 49% of the state's distribution and transmission network, or poles and wires, offered to investors on a 99-year lease expected to raise $20 billion. Of that, $6 billion is earmarked for regional infrastructure, with the remainder deposited in a NSW future fund that will finance public servants' future superannuation and a backlog of infrastructure projects in Sydney.

North Coasters may well be wondering what, if any, of the income generated will come our way.

Mr Gulaptis was hesitant to share his wish-list for the region, however, he said the Grafton Bridge would be a top priority.

"There's a backlog of projects that all deserve funding and I've got my wishlist, as does every other MP," he said.

"I made a commitment at the last election work would commence this term on the Grafton Bridge - hopefully we'll see this in next week's budget to ensure the bridge is finished by 2019; that's what I'm aiming for."

He also earmarked health, roads and jobs as critical areas of need, including an Ambulatory Care Unit at Grafton Base Hospital estimated to cost $10 million.

"The problem is when the Coalition came to government there was a $27 billion backlog in infrastructure; basically just hollow promises which had been made but no money, which makes for a cynical electorate.

"The lease of electricity assets will allow the backlog of infrastructure to be built but we've got a long way to go to consider this between now and the next election."

Meanwhile, NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has strongly criticised the privatisation that he says will lead to higher electricity prices and a less reliable electricity network.

He said it would mean a cut in frontline nurses, teachers and firefighters, because the state would no longer receive $1.7 billion a year in dividends.

Selling an asset to spend on infrastructure was like using your superannuation to buy a flashy car and have a holiday, but having nothing left afterwards.

The money from the sale was not needed to fund infrastructure, as NSW spent $15 billion a year.

Meanwhile Greens NSW MP John Kaye is calling for North Coast Nationals to unite and block the sell-off and commit to crossing the floor when legislation is introduced after the March election.

Dr Kaye said Nationals MPs were deluding themselves and their constituents if they thought the deal to keep Essential Energy in public ownership has any real future.

"The country power distributor will rapidly become a sitting duck in an otherwise fully privatised industry," he said.

"Mike Baird has pulled one over the Nationals and it's time they stood up for their rural and regional communities.

"National Party members voted against the sale of the poles and wires at their state conference last year.

"If their MPs remain committed they need to launch a full-scale campaign. Nationals MPs including Andrew Fraser, Chris Gulaptis, Adam Marshall and Don Page have been vocal opponents."

Topics:  electricity nationals nsw government privatisation

LETTER: Photo normalises unacceptable situation

The controversial photograph showing a family with all the females with their mouths taped shut and the father holding a sign reading "peace on earth" shown during the principal's address at the McAuley Catholic College Year 12 Graduation Ceremony last month.

Resident clarifies community sentiment towards offensive photograph

1990-2015: A life lived full remembered one year on

"Hayden never had time in his life for diabetes."

Kalti on the trail of grand master's title

TOP TRACKER: Tracey Knox and her champion tracking dog Kalti celebrate their latest title, a Master of Track and Search.

Tracey Knox and her dog Kalti are searching for new titles.

Local Partners

Green light for sports centre to re-open

NEW operators hoping existing users will return to sports centre and get 'business back to normal'.

Tea party with the 'Queen'

TRADITION: 1955 Jacaranda Queen Stella Wilson sits with reigning 2015 Jacaranda Queen Charlotte White at last year's Jacaranda Afternoon Tea.

Meet the royal patyu in style

Making steps for 'Blacky' in Walk 4 Brain Cancer

Grafton locals are doing a Walk 4 Brain Cancer in Sydney for Robert Black.

Team Blacky aims to better $5000 to battle brain cancer.

Sound of Music star to compere An Afternoon at the Proms

This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment shows, from left, Chairmian Carr, as Liesl, Nicholas Hammond, as Friedrich, Heather Menzies, as Louisa, Duane Chase, as Kurt, Angela Cartwright, as Brigitta, Debbie Turner, as Marta, Kym Karath, as Gretl, and Christopher Plummer, as Captain Von Trapp, in a scene from the film, \"The Sound of Music.\" The 1965 Oscar-winning film adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical \"The Sound of Music\" is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2015. To honor the milestone, 20th Century Fox is releasing a five-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD collector's edition, the soundtrack is being re-released, the film will be screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood later this month and to over 500 movie theaters in April. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Saraton's rich history of stage and screen honoured in musical tribu

Priscilla concerned people will forget about Elvis

Priscilla Presley source Bang

She says she feels responsible to keep his legacy going

Taylor Swift files lawsuit over alleged groping

Taylor Swift source Bang

Swift has commenced legal action against a DJ over the incident

Kanye West threatens to boycott Grammys

West says he won't go to the Grammys if Frank Ocean's not nominated

Why this actress wasn't embarrassed by nude photo leak

Leslie Jones source Bang

'If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask,' she said

Dad's Army comic genius Jim Perry dies

Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army.

Dad's Army series captured all that British people savour

Check out some fashions from the Coast festival

FASHION: Ocean Zen range.

Images from the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival show what's hot

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track