MP says ‘we as NSW Liberals support asset recycling’ despite premier’s pledge to end privatisation
Felicity Wilson, the Liberal MP for the North Shore, has told voters a New South Wales Coalition government would continue asset recycling, spruiking the benefits of privatisation to pay for metro lines, healthcare and schools.
The comments made last Thursday at a candidate forum run contradictory to the premier’s promise not to sell off any more of the state’s assets and come amid political attacks from Labor asserting more privatisations would take place under a reelected Perrottet government.
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Asked if she supported asset sales to fund government debt, Wilson said the government had “undertaken a whole tranche of asset recycling initiatives to fund infrastructure, not to fund government debt”.
“What we do as a NSW Liberal government – and we would continue to do this with a range of different projects – is to ensure that we can continue to get more equity on to the balance sheet so that we can invest in more income-producing and productivity-enhancing infrastructure projects,” she said.
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“These are the kind of projects that have changed people’s lives and we are actually really proud of our record in ensuring that we can deliver that.”
She said the government’s record of selling off government assets had allowed the state to invest in schools, infrastructure projects and the health system.
“We as NSW Liberals support asset recycling but it has to be for the infrastructure that we need and for the infrastructure that will make a difference to people’s lives,” she said.
Wilson is trying to save the seat she holds on an 11% margin from the teal challenger Helen Conway who told the forum she did not support further privatisation.
“This money that was raised did not go into schools or public transport … it went into projects that were incompetently managed,” Conway said.
Grilled on his asset recycling at the final leaders debate on Wednesday evening in Penrith, Perrottet insisted he had ruled out further privatisation but that it had previously allowed the government to “turbocharge” infrastructure.
Labor has repeatedly questioned if the premier’s pledge not to sell any more government assets in the next term was genuine.
The opposition Treasury spokesperson, Daniel Mookhey, insisted the comments from Wilson were a signal a Coalition government would sell off Sydney Water – a plan they have denied repeatedly throughout the campaign.
“Despite Dominic Perrottet’s denials, we have another senior Liberal talking about asset recycling and the government’s secret privatisation agenda,” he said.
“We’ve seen it with tolls, we’ve seen it with electricity prices, and if Dominic Perrottet gets another four more years, we’ll see Sydney Water privatised.
“There is not an asset the Liberals won’t sell – but the end result is always the same – people will pay more in the long run.”
Asked about the comments on Wednesday, Wilson insisted “a reelected Liberal government will not be privatising assets”. She did not answer questions about why she made the comments last week.
Thousands of votes have already been cast ahead of polling day. Analysts and pollsters are predicting Labor will squeak into power.