Opposition says power station sale needs scrutiny

The Opposition has called on the Labor Government to be transparent about any deals done with unsolicited bidders for the South Fremantle Power Station.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said revelations of an unsolicited bid for the site has prompted calls for the State Government to ensure any deal is done with full openness and transparency.
“It is comforting there’s an EOI process to test an unsolicited bid, but we know the Minister has already met with the proponent to discuss the potential sale,” Ms Davies said.
“The first sign something is off is the extremely tight 10 day expression of interest timeline.”
Ms Davies said the second issue was the fact the Minister for Energy had washed his hands of the process, saying it was entirely up to the Synergy Board, but then made the announcement himself.
“The Minister himself chose to announce the process, met with the proponent of the unsolicited bid and referred it to Synergy, yet we have heard the Minister claim he would have nothing to do with the process,” Ms Davies said.
“Given the unique and complex nature of the South Fremantle Power Station, you’d think a whole of Government approach to the disposal of the site was warranted.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Shane Love also called for greater transparency by the Labor Government and highlighted the quick transition of the South Fremantle Power Station to heritage listing.
“The power station has been interim heritage listed since 1997 but two weeks ago it was added to the State Register and now it’s up for sale,” Mr Love said.
“That quick timeline and the revelation of an unsolicited bid suggests the Labor Government had already committed to a shady back-door deal for the sale of a West Australian icon.”
Mr Love also said the Labor Government needed to explain if it will provide any funding to the successful proponents given the power station’s heritage nature.
“Now it is on the State Register, one would expect funding to be given to the soon-to-be owner by the Government but so far, there has been no indication of how much that might be,” Mr Love said.
“This shady process needs to be thrown into the spotlight so West Australians can be aware of any agreements Labor might have with private bidders.”
Shadow Minister for Energy David Honey said the haste in Labor’s sale of the South Fremantle Power Station raised some serious concerns.
“The South Fremantle Power Station sits on prime real estate and it would be a disgrace if it was sold for just $1 in a rushed sale,” Dr Honey said.
“This sudden listing is likely to deter some of the competitive bids and will reduce the market testing of the unsolicited bid process from developers.
“Bill Johnston needs to assure taxpayers that this process will not be a repeat of the East Perth Power Station sale that was reportedly also sold for $1 and resulted in the taxpayers paying $65 million for remedial work at this site.”