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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Saffin: Nationals cannot have it both ways

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After only a few short months in the seat, State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin is doing her best to push the right buttons to get the right outcomes.

This time her sights are aimed at Nationals MPs like John Barilaro and Chris Gulaptis whom she says are hypocrites if they claim they are fighting against Essential Energy’s regional job cuts.

Ms Saffin launched a blistering attack on the Nationals’ duplicity after Essential Energy confirmed a reduction of 182 employees in the period to September 30 this year.

Ms Saffin said the Nationals allowed Essential Energy to be corporatised so they can bleat all they like but lost their say in the matter when they abandoned regional and rural New South Wales.

‘The Nationals’ excuse was that a Restart fund would be set up from the proceeds of the sale of poles and wires, and that regional and rural NSW would get 30 per cent of the proceeds annually,’ said Ms Saffin.

‘They never even delivered and failed regional and rural NSW. The Auditor General has showed year after year since 2011 that Restart has not met the Nationals’ 30 per cent target – it was 17 per cent last year.

‘The Nationals lost three seats at the recent State election, which is why John Barilaro is now posturing that his hapless party is suddenly independent of the Liberals.’

Ms Saffin said she was saddened to hear of Essential Energy’s plan to sack more workers as it was a cruel blow to them and their families, and would make it harder on remaining workers maintaining or upgrading infrastructure.

‘Essential Energy, which operates electricity poles and wires across 95 per cent of the state, has gutted more than 2000 jobs from their ranks since 2015,’ said Ms Saffin.

‘It is hard enough to get permanent roles in the regions and while jobs have grown in the city it has been slow here.

‘I shall fight tooth and nail with the Electrical Trades Union for affected workers but once a government asset is sold they can get away with sacking workers and providing less service – that will always be the result.

‘It is the Nationals who have to be held to account; we know the Liberals will sell off the kitchen sink with over $70 billion worth of public assets already gone and more in the pipeline.’

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