Media Release

21 November 2019

The festive season is meant to be a time of celebration and relaxation but for Essential Energy workers it will instead be full of stress and anxiety as they wait to find out the fate of their jobs.

Three months since promising to do so, Deputy Premier John Barilaro is yet to stop 182 regional and rural jobs from being cut from the state-owned electricity infrastructure company.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Labor’s Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Jobs Yasmin Catley said tensions within the Coalition are obvious and it’s clear the Nationals are at odds with the Liberal NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean on this important issue.

“In August, the Deputy Premier celebrated a victory over his Liberal colleagues but it’s now November and he is yet to deliver what he promised. If Mr Barilaro had any influence with the Energy Minister, this debacle would have been sorted and these workers would be going into the holiday period with job security.”

“He should be standing up for jobs in his own electorate and across regional and rural NSW. Clearly there is a rift between the Member for Monaro and his Liberal colleagues and it’s coming at a cost to these country communities.”

“During the election Mr Barilaro made a commitment to rural and regional NSW that he would protect local jobs but he has clearly broken his promise.”

In Question Time today in the NSW Parliament NSW Ms Catley repeatedly asked Mr Barilaro why the Energy Minister hasn’t followed his instructions.

In a Budget Estimates hearing in the NSW Parliament in October the CEO of Essential Energy John Cleland revealed that he had still not received the order from the Liberal and National government to stop the job losses from going ahead.

At an earlier Estimates Hearing in September Mr Cleland said the earlier draft order had merely “paused” the cuts, not stopped them, nor did it address the further 500 jobs – one in every five regional workers – Essential was due to slash by 2024.

Ms Catley said workers deserve to know what their future holds.

“Rural and regional NSW is hurting right now under the drought and bushfire. These jobs are needed now more than ever. The Liberal and National state government needs to come clean on those jobs and do it today,” Ms Catley said.

Labor’s Shadow Energy Minister Adam Searle said the government needs to act now before it’s too late.

“If the Premier and her government are serious about protecting rural and regional government jobs, she will announce the saving of these jobs permanently before Parliament rises for the year” — Adam Searle MLC

Essential Energy operates and maintains Australia’s largest electricity network and has numerous depots across northern and southern New South Wales with regional offices in Port Macquarie, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.