O'Farrell dodges questions on electricity dividends as he gouges $1 billion this year from NSW families

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The Premier has dodged questions from the NSW Labor Opposition in budget estimates this afternoon on whether he has honoured his election promise to require electricity company directors to guarantee electricity dividend payments won't put upward pressure on prices.

The O'Farrell Government's electricity policy document committed to:

"We will… require electricity company directors to personally certify that dividend payments place no additional pressure on prices or reliability."

(NSW Liberals and Nationals energy policy document, March 2011)

"I asked Mr O'Farrell a series of questions, including if any electricity directors had signed declarations that dividend payments would not put upward pressure on prices, in line with his election commitments," Shadow Energy Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"Mr O'Farrell ducked every question and could not confirm if any electricity director had indeed complied with his election policy.

"It's no wonder Mr O'Farrell wasn't willing to say which, if any electricity directors, had certified that dividends wouldn’t put upward pressure on bills – because he is gouging $1 billion from NSW families this year through higher electricity prices.

"Instead of keeping his promise to freeze dividends, Barry O’Farrell has increased the electricity dividends paid to his government by a whopping 56 per cent.

"The O’Farrell Government has increased dividends by $361 million in its first two years, the equivalent of $120 extra from each household in the State.

"NSW families and businesses are the ones paying for Barry O’Farrell’s broken promises."

The premier is gouging:

Financial Year: Dividends from Electricity Companies to O’Farrell Government:
2011/12 $820 million
2012/13 $999 million
 

TOTAL: $1.819 billion

 

(Source: 2012/13 Budget paper no.2, 5-18)

By comparison, in the last year of the former government NSW received $638 million in electricity dividends.