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Liza Harvey rules out selling state-owned Western Power

Western Australia’s new opposition leader Liza Harvey has ruled out selling state-owned electricity utility Western Power, a shift away from the policy her party took to the last state election where they suffered a landslide loss to Labor.

The Liberals stuck with the policy under Mike Nahan, who quit this week as leader. The sale of the public asset was one of the most controversial policies the former Barnett Liberal government took to the 2017 election.

Mike Nahan, who took on the role of opposition leader after the election, did not rule out the sale if the Liberals came back to power.

Mrs Harvey took over the leadership role from Dr Nahan yesterday after he tendered his resignation.

She had previously been open to the idea of selling the asset, but today said the sale was no longer on the Opposition’s agenda.

“When we were considering selling Western Power several years ago, and looking at that as a policy initiative, there was some value in it,” she said.

“But now, when you have a look at the way energy is delivered, the type of energy consumers are demanding, I don’t believe there’s a strong economic case for selling Western Power now.”

She said any sale may not get a return on the debt attached to the utility.

“The only reason to sell Western Power is if you can retire debt and you have money left over to put into other asset purchases, and I’m not so sure that that’s the case, so it’s no longer our policy,” Mrs Harvey said.

In 2016, then premier Colin Barnett expected the part-sale of 51 per cent of the utility to raise $11 billion, and reduce state debt by $8 billion.

Mrs Harvey said she had spoken to the Liberal leadership team who were happy with the decision.