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Premiers trade barbs on Victoria energy plan

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has traded barbs with Liberal predecessor Jeff Kennett over Labor’s plan to re-establish the State Electricity Commission.

The Andrews government last week pledged it would re-enter the energy market with the revival of the SEC if re-elected next month, after it was privatised under the Kennett government in the 1990s.

The government energy operator would oversee $1 billion worth of renewable energy projects, 51 per cent owned by Victorian taxpayers.

Super funds have been sounded out as the preferred investor for the 49 per cent minority stake in the projects.

In a series of social media posts on Saturday evening, Mr Kennett said Mr Andrews was sending the state broke and now wanted to raid superannuation funds.

“Every major (government) project is late on delivery and grossly over cost. Now he wants to raid your savings. This must be stopped,” he tweeted.

Mr Kennett defended his government’s record of privatisation, to rein in mounting debt from the previous Labor Cain/Kirner government.

“We returned Victoria to surplus budgets after two years, and reduced your debt from $33bn to $5bn. And improved all services,” he wrote.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Mr Kennett said the premier would return Victoria to a “rust bucket state”.

Mr Andrews described the comments as “hysterical abuse” while promising $35 million in extra funding for children’s cancer research if his government secures a third term in November.

“It was a mistake to sell our energy companies … privatisation has failed,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“These coal-fired power stations have made $23 billion out of all of us. That’s what these private companies have made over that period since Mr Kennett sold off our electricity assets to the highest bidder.”

The coalition continues to hammer home Victoria’s growing debt bill and has pledged to cut seven taxes under its long-term economic plan, including a passenger levy on taxi and rideshare fares.

“It’s only a dollar but it makes a big difference to many Victorians who are getting rideshare to and from work each week,” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said.

– AAP



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