EXCLUSIVE: THE Victorian Government may be forced back into the gas business to deliver an election promise.
A stunning policy reversal is secretly being considered to rebuild a modern-day Gas and Fuel Corporation, privatised more than a decade ago.
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- Election promises disappear
Regional Development Victoria, charged with delivering the Coalition's promise, commissioned a "high-level structural overview of procurement options available to the state for the delivery of the program".
That program would include "the potential for a public-private partnership and for the state to build, own, operate and transfer gas infrastructure under a builder of last resort model".
The state's three private gas companies have so far rejected the Government's $100 million pre-election commitment to supply natural gas to the bush.
Opposition regional development spokesman Jacinta Allan said the Government's latest "desperate" move showed it should never have made the promises.
"It now appears Mr Ryan (deputy premier Peter Ryan) is becoming increasingly desperate as revealed under an FOI document that he plans to run a government-owned gas network," Ms Allan said.
The Coalition has now had three attempts to deliver its Energy for the Regions Program with only the two "easiest" locations at Mildura and Huntly making progress.
The priority towns of Avoca, Bannockburn, Heathcote, Invermay, Koo Wee Rup, Lakes Entrance, Maldon, Marong, Orbost, Terang, Wandong-Heathcote Junction, Warburton and Winchelsea are still waiting.
Of the three attempts to win the private companies over - the pipeline extension was abandoned, the gas companies have a few more days to respond to an offer of subsidies and a third tender has been launched investigating the building of gas tanks outside the towns.
Documents obtained by Ms Allan include a briefing given to Deputy Premier Peter Ryan by public servants concerned there was a "significant risk" some towns would not get gas.