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Schultz to oppose Snowy sale.

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Schultz to oppose Snowy sale Thursday, 1 June 2006

Member for Hume Alby Schultz has stepped up in opposition to the sale of Snowy Hydro. Following a meeting of Government backbench members, senators and independents with the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Mr Schultz said it was obvious to him that public opinion was strongly against the sale. “Although I still believe the sale of the Snowy is inevitable, based on the NSW and Victorian Governments’ determination to sell their majority shares, I believe the Australian Government needs to take a stand and send a message on this issue,” he said. “Since this whole business was raised I’ve heard nothing but concerns from constituents about the sale and about the Australian Government sitting back and doing nothing about it.” Mr Schultz said the meeting on Wednesday afternoon discussed public concerns including long term access to water, how Snowy Hydro would use water to generate electricity and fears of an escalation in the price of power. “There is also a strong feeling out there in the community about the Snowy’s historical significance,” Mr Schultz said. “One of the most compelling issues raised was the lack of consultation which has taken place. People feel like there has not been an opportunity to put forward their views.” Commenting on suggestions that the Commonwealth should buy out the NSW and Victorian shares, Mr Schultz said he did agree with the Australian Government that doing so would be an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds. Mr Schultz said he took the opportunity at the meeting to express directly to the Prime Minister his complete opposition to the sale, although he understood the final outcome was outside the Prime Minister’s control as the NSW and Victorian Governments were committed to selling their majority shares. “Regardless of the outcome I have decided that I will not be supporting any legislation which comes before the Parliament regarding the sale of Snowy Hydro,” he said. “I think the sale of Snowy Hydro is a mistake and I can’t, in all good conscience support it, particularly as I have publicly declared for many years now that in the public interest there are some major infrastructures in which governments must continue to be involved.”