Treasurer Scott Morrison says national security will be the top consideration in the decision on the controversial sale of the NSW electricity grid.
Mr Morrison said a final call was not too far away on the Ausgrid deal, which could have one of the nation’s biggest electricity networks leased to either State Grid Corporation of China or Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure.
‘People can be very assured we’re taking that to the ‘nth degree in examining the national security issues around this transaction,’ he told Sky News on Sunday.
‘It’s the most important consideration, and always is.’
Mr Morrison is expected to consult further with security agencies and government defence departments before announcing the successful bid in about two weeks.
The additional consultations follow protectionist campaigning by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, Independent Bob Katter and influential radio host Alan Jones.
In a video posted on her Facebook page, Ms Hanson said people should be concerned about ‘Communist China’ wanting to take control of Australia’s electricity supplies.
‘Why would communist China want to own our electricity? Are you concerned? You should be,’ she said.
‘No foreign government – especially communist China – should own and have control of our electricity here in Australia.’
The Foreign Investment Review Board is yet to clear the sale, which looks set to be Australia’s biggest privatisation.
China-owned State Grid has reportedly bid $13-14 billion for the NSW government’s stake of 50.4 per cent – the government will remain a minority holder after the sale.
Ausgrid distributes to more than 1.6 billion homes and businesses in Sydney, the Central Coast, and the Hunter region, which would fall under the control of the potential foreign owner for a lease period of 99 years.
– See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/state/2016/08/07/national-security-top-concern-in-ausgrid-sale.html#sthash.5zc4SQrJ.dpuf