NSW state election 2015: Baird dismisses inquiry into UBS report changes as an ‘election stunt’

“We are happy to stand on our record”: Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Edwina PicklesPremier Mike Baird has dismissed a parliamentary inquiry into allegations his government sought to revise an investment bank report on the government’s contentious power privatisation plans as a pre-election “stunt”.
Nanjing Night Net

UBS, one of two banks handling the proposed electricity network sell-off for the government, said in an initial report the sale would damage the budget in the long term due to the loss of billions of dollars in dividends and other payments.

But the investment bank – which stands to benefit by earning millions of dollars in fees if the transaction proceeds after the March 28 election – reissued the report on Wednesday with an addendum removing a statement the transaction was “bad for the budget”.

Mr Baird has admitted his staff called UBS after the initial report was released but he says the bank was already changing the report.

Labor has said it will join forces with the Greens and Shooters and Fishers Party MPs in the state’s upper house to force an upper house inquiry into the incident immediately after the March 28 election.

Mr Baird dismissed the moves on Saturday, saying: “We’re in an election campaign and I understand that people will pull election stunts.

“That’s just the usual colour and movement. They can pull whatever stunts they want to pull, we are very happy to stand on our record of what we’ve achieved and importantly what we want to do for this state.”

The incident is an unwelcome distraction for the NSW Liberal Party and the first real hit to Mr Baird’s reputation during the election campaign, as it enters its crucial final week.

Asked whether voters could take him on trust, Mr Baird said: “I can understand why the Labor Party is concerned about trust.

“They are putting forward [anti-power privatisation] campaigns that their own side is saying are bald-faced lies, whether it be Martin Ferguson, whether it be Paul Keating.

“Nobody can believe a word they are saying, they’re being caught out and what we’re doing is fighting for the people of NSW with a plan that puts downward pressure on network prices and builds the infrastructure we need and grows the economy by 120,000 jobs.”

Asked who in his office contacted UBS, Mr Baird said: “I’ve answered this a couple of days ago. Yes, there was contact, UBS was aware of the errors in the report that they themselves identified and were already fixing.

“They made an assumption that the economy wasn’t growing, so that modelling wasn’t included as part of the analysis. They identified it, they addressed it, they made a statement about it, it’s time to move on.”

He denied the report was changed as a result of the phone call. “That’s not the case. I’ll say it again today. They identified it, they have responded and importantly it reflects the growing economy,” Mr Baird said.

Shadow treasurer Michael Daley wrote to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman, Greg Medcraft, on Thursday over the UBS controversy.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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