ELECTRICITY COMMISSION PERT
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL:
I address my question without notice to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Is he aware of recent advertisements in the national press through which Victoria's Labor Government is seeking to sell 40 per cent of its Loy Yang "B" Power Station? Is the New South Wales Government contemplating any similar moves to reduce debt accrued by the Electricity Commission of New South Wales?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER:
Personally I question the need for Victorians to build this new power station at this time, when they could be buying New South
Wales electricity at a fair and competitive price. I should say that the two utilities bear no comparison in that regard. The Electricity Commission of New South Wales is making strong and steady progress in reducing the debt accrued over the years in this naturally capital-intensive industry. In fact, commission debt has been reduced by more than $1,000 million over the past two years, a reduction of 20 per cent in the debt of three years ago. Repayments overseas of more than $200 million have cut the commission's overseas debt by almost 20 per cent. These figures reflect the Electricity Commission's improving economic performance.
In other words the Electricity Commission has taken the hard decisions. It has worked hard to concentrate on its core business; it has closed the hangover of uneconomic plant; and it has taken the tough decisions on reducing staff. Everyone in New South Wales is beginning to enjoy the fruit of these hard-won efficiency and productivity gains. To top it all off the Electricity Commission is returning a bigger dividend on the capital we the taxpayers have invested in it. I believe that when the Electricity Commission's final results for the year are declared it will return a record dividend for the Government and the taxpayers. Not only will it be a record for the Electricity Commission, surpassing the $160 million dividend in 1989-90, but it will be one of the biggest dividends yet returned by a State Government business enterprise. The answer to the second part of honourable member's question is no.