THE carbon tax will cost NSW up to $3 billion in proceeds from the sale of electricity generators – cash which was supposed to have been spent building roads and rail.
The state government believes it could have reaped between $6 billion and $8 billion, earmarked to fund critical infrastructure, by selling Macgen and Delta Coast.
But the carbon tax will force a writedown and whittle that windfall down to between $3 billion and $5 billion.
“This isn’t just a hit to the generator value, it’s a direct hit to the people of NSW,” Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher said.
“Why is Julia Gillard punishing NSW? Victoria is getting $2 billion (compensation for the generators) yet we don’t get a cent. Any fair person would say the arrangements must be reconsidered.
“Whichever way you look at it, $3 billion is being ripped away from the people of this state as a result of Labor’s carbon tax … that’s $3 billion that we won’t have for critical roads, hospitals and schools.”
A spokesperson from federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet’s office last night hit back at the claims, saying the NSW economy would surge under a carbon price, with 400,000 new jobs created by 2020.
“The O’Farrell government has a track record of using dodgy figures to run a political scare campaign on carbon pricing,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a renewable energy action plan which has been in the wind for months was again deferred by cabinet on Monday because National Party ministers were concerned about the emphasis on building wind-power stations.
The delay came as the government considered whether to push ahead with complying with the Gillard government’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, with electricity bills already high.
Mr Hartcher has made a submission to the federal government’s energy white paper suggesting it dump the 20 per cent target, because the carbon tax is coming in. One government source said: “Is going after renewables worth it?”
Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said Mr O’Farrell would be breaking an election promise if he failed to keep the renewable energy target.
Mr O’Farrell has vowed to keep his promises – the main reason he is not supporting a second Sydney airport or selling up to $15 billion worth of electricity poles and wires.