Snowy Hydro not for sale

THE money-centric decades since the 1995 Keating maxim, to privatise 'non-core' government assets including the Snowy, and to couple the sale with water privatisation, has created perpetual uncertainty for Snowy Hydro.

The Snowy Scheme was key to the privatisation agenda and was coupled through legislation to water privatisation.

Selling of the family jewels is equivalent to selling off our heritage for many generations into the future. Quick budget fixes are not sustainable. Political drivers and greed (trading in the spot electricity market, hedge products etc), have changed the once stable culture of 'water and energy security' as Snowy's primary role.

Once, the Snowy Scheme was a regulator of the now, out of control energy prices as state governments invest public money into the poles and wires sector, in a pre-sale bid to increase their value. Further, continual attempts to sell this pivotal, Australian-owned asset, undermine community confidence in governments who have promised a 'no sale' position, then again flag the privatisation of Snowy Hydro.

At present, significant annual dividends accrue to the three trustee 'shareholders'; the finance ministers of the NSW, Commonwealth and Victorian government. These dividends can and should accrue directly to the Snowy region.

As a community, we now have an opportunity to divest a percentage, for example, 5 per cent of the gross income of Snowy Hydro, into a specially constructed 'Snowy Regional Trust Fund'. This is an opportunity for people from all the Snowy communities, from Tumut to Bombala, to benefit directly from Snowy Hydro dividends.

Rural Fires Services, footpaths, cancer research, scholarships, community health care, roads maintenance, residential aged care facilities, public dentistry, community owned renewable energy generators, affordable five star water and energy rated housing, tourism advertising, catchment science and conservation are just a few of the many, worthy causes.

The challenge is for our local Members, state (John Barilaro) and federal (Peter Hendy) to convene community gatherings to allow the democratic process to take place where people can put forward their best ideas for the future of our region.

The challenge for MPs is to define the legal pathways and establish a Snowy Regional Trust Fund. The first step is to acknowledge that retaining wealth in the region is of equal importance to sourcing revenue for Commonwealth and state budgets.

Snowy Hydro is not for sale and it is now time for the Snowy region communities to benefit directly from Snowy earnings through a Snowy Regional Trust Fund.

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