Jobs to go in power jolt

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 23 Februari 2013 | 19.55

THE State Government is under fire over job losses resulting from a planned merger of electricity companies.

Unions Tasmania criticised the job cuts while the Opposition slammed the Government for creating a "bureaucratic tangle" that will see three boards run the two companies until July next year.

Deputy Premier Bryan Green yesterday announced a new state-owned company would be set up to run the transmission and distribution of electricity in Tasmania.

He claimed the move would safeguard consumers from future electricity price rises.

Mr Green said a new board would be appointed to oversee the merger of Aurora and Transend, with the new company expected to be operating by July next year.

Mr Green said the Government would immediately appoint an independent person to facilitate the merger.

The new board would also include two directors from each existing board.

The merger was expected to save $8 million a year.

Mr Green said it would pave the way to full retail competition, due to be implemented at the start of next year.

But it would result in an unknown number of job losses from Aurora's retail division, including call centres.

"We're looking at every opportunity for those people but inevitably, as a result of the transition, there will be some job losses," Mr Green said.

Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said it was concerning that the full extent of job losses was unknown.

"There is no doubt these changes will result in job losses, how many is anyone's guess," Mr Harkins said.

"Minister Green will go down in Tasmanian political history as the minister for lost jobs. Under his stewardship, I estimate around 800 jobs have been lost in our state-owned power companies."

Opposition energy spokesman Matthew Groom said the Liberals supported the merger, but slammed the suggested reform process.

"Instead of bringing Aurora and Transend together as the Liberals have been calling for, Energy Minister Green is creating a new layer of bureaucracy, which will only add to the current confusion and costs," Mr Groom said.

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