Speaking out on sale of assets
STOP the Sell Off campaigners were in Grafton to speak to workers and community members concerned about the potential impact of the state sell-off of 49% of powerlines.
Electrical Trades Union NSW assistant secretary Neville Betts said unions feared the power line sell-off could mean a halt in hiring new apprentices at Essential Energy.
Mr Betts said a union study had shown a drastic drop in apprenticeships being taken up since 2010.
"At the start of 2011, Essential Energy hired 129 new apprentices across regional NSW," he said.
"By this year, the number ... had plunged to just 30."
An Essential Energy spokesman said the market and needs of the customer would determine how many apprentices a company would hire.
"Each business will definitely recruit new apprentices in 2015," the spokesman said.
"However the size of the intake depends on the Australian Energy Regulator's decision on our five-year funding proposals.
"Apprentice recruitment will be delayed for about six months until these plans are determined.
"We expect to start recruiting for the class of 2015 apprentices early next year."
Stop the Sell Off campaign director Adam Kerslake said no taxpayer money should be spent on a sale process that had not already been taken to the electorate.
"The big end of town will be the only winners if the poles and wires are privatised," he said.
"We are calling on the Premier to stop spending taxpayers' money on privatising public assets before he has even given voters the opportunity to have their say.
"By rolling over and allowing the Premier to push ahead with a partial sell-off of the poles and wires, National Party MPs have sold out the people of NSW."