Media Release

2 March 2021

Today in Budget Estimates, the Energy and Environment Minister, Matt Kean failed to disclose what the Berejiklian Government has done in the last year to ensure the electricity distribution companies (Ausgrid, Endeavour and Essential) had enough workers to ensure homes and businesses remain safely connected to power.

At last year’s estimates, held not long after severe storms in Sydney saw thousands of homes and businesses lose power for an extended time, the distribution company Ausgrid struggled to safely reconnect homes and business to power in a timely way and even flagged seeking support from the army, due to workforce shortages arising from cutting jobs.

Since the privatization of the State-owned electricity distributors (Ausgrid and Endeavour), the distributors (including State-owned Essential Energy) have slashed 5,000 jobs across NSW. With the lapsing of the jobs guarantees in the privatization legislation in June 2020, the distributors are now proposing to axe a further 1,300 jobs: 500 by Ausgrid, 500 at Endeavour Energy and 300 at Essential Energy.

Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Adam Searle MLC said: “It’s clear that the workforce that ensures the community is safely and reliably connected to electricity has been cut to the bone and beyond. The proof of this was seen in how Ausgrid struggled to reconnect power to properties last year.

“With more job cuts being proposed, it is alarming the Berejiklian Government has no plan to ensure there are enough skilled workers in place to prevent this happening again” — Adam Searle, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy

“It is just not good enough for the Minister to push the issue off to other colleagues in the Government, as Minister Kean repeatedly did,” Mr Searle said.

Labor MLC, Mark Buttigieg said: “These companies have cut way too many jobs from communities in Sydney and across the State. The proposed upcoming jobs losses will hit the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter Valley, among other areas and compromise the delivery of safe and reliable electricity.

“The Berejiklian Government and its Minister must ensure communities will be protected when severe weather hits the electricity system.” Mr Buttigieg concluded.