Perrottet, Minns go toe to toe on selling NSW assets
Labor leader Chris Minns says NSW voters can't trust the Liberals' promise not to privatise Sydney Water, while Premier Dominic Perrottet maintains Labor can't balance the budget.
Ten days out from the March 25 election, privatisation has sharpened as a key issue, despite both major parties vowing not to sell public assets in the next term of government.
In their latest US-style presidential debate the leaders squared off with sale of public assets featuring heavily as both tried to convince voters they can bring down the cost of living.
"Don't forget voters at home ... last election, days before polling day, (the Liberals said) nothing will be privatised," Mr Minns said during the debate televised on the Nine Network on Wednesday.
"As soon as the polls closed, the rest of WestConnex was sold off by the Liberal Party. They're going to repeat the habit of a lifetime and do the same thing with Sydney Water if they get re-elected on the 25th of March."
He argued electricity bills and tolls had increased 40 per cent and 20 per cent respectively because the government had sold off public assets to private firms.
"Privatisation is hitting families very hard."
He said $90 billion of public assets had been sold under the coalition.
But the premier fired back over the "Labor lie", saying he had made it clear that Sydney Water would not be sold.
"We've completely ruled it out," he said.
"In terms of transparency and accountability, I will table in the parliament every year an update on election commitments."
The renewed focus on privatisation comes a day after leaked documents revealed the government had sought advice on the sale of the utility as it looked to fund infrastructure projects.
The coalition sought feedback on the viability of offloading Sydney Water as it considered upgrading water infrastructure in the city's west, according to documents seen by AAP.
"Shareholders have shown a preference for maintaining or increasing returns to government and asset recycling," a board-level briefing note generated by the state-owned utility said.
Asset recycling is the sale of public assets and was employed by the Baird coalition government which sold off NSW power utility assets to fund major infrastructure projects.
The advice, prepared in February 2021 when Mr Perrottet was treasurer, outlines five options for Sydney Water including a full sale or partial sale, managing the assets as they were, or the introduction of developer charges.