The NSW Nationals unreservedly reject any moves to pay for Sydney infrastructure by scrapping regional jobs.

In an editorial published by the Sydney Morning Herald, there are calls to privatise Essential Energy to raise money to pay for pet projects like the Sydney West Metro. It suggests $8 billion could be raised from the sale, but it is a short-sighted suggestion that would risk the very jobs our Party just saved.

Last week the NSW Nationals in Government forced the State-owned corporation to abandon plans to immediately cut 182 regional jobs, and to look elsewhere for any cost-saving measures it may need. The NSW Nationals acted decisively to protect our regional communities, and we make no apologies for delivering on our commitment to those communities.

Now, the Sydney Morning Herald has the hide to suggest a regional asset should be sold to benefit Sydney. Our response is simple: Hands off.

For the Sydney Morning Herald to suggest the NSW Nationals are using Essential Energy as a “plaything” is not only offensive, it is patently untrue. Further, the NSW Nationals fought hard to prevent the sale of Essential by former Premier Mike Baird precisely so that we could protect regional jobs, as we did last week. We understand that the return on investment formulas used by Sydney bean counters might not see the value in looking after a long line of wires that leads to small country towns as much as short city runs leading to towers, that is why we need to treat Essential energy differently.

Our Party was formed to defend the regions from exactly this kind of city-centric nonsense that would see regional jobs cut for a quick buck. Efficiency dividends and cost-benefit ratios simply do not deliver acceptable outcomes for regional NSW, and we will not allow them to harm our communities.