Home > Oz Politics > Time to give the B team a turn?

Time to give the B team a turn?

February 25th, 2008

The NSW Liberals are the perennial B team of Australian politics. Since the emergence of the current two-party system, they (and their UAP/Nationalist) predecessors have held office only when incumbent Labor governments have either split or been so long in office that the accumulated arrogance and corruption is too much to take*. On those criteria, the performance of the Iemma government suggests that the Libs may finally be due for a turn. But there are a couple of obvious problems: the next election is not due for a couple of years, and the Liberals have never looked capable of presenting a credible alternative than they do now (to be fair, they look marginally better for the change from Debnam to O’Farrell).

So, I’d prefer it if Labor had a go at internal renewal. John Sutton’s suggestion that Iemma be replaced by his deputy, John Watkins, looks like a start. There’s also the possibility of an old-style party-Parliamentary leadership split over electricity privatisation, with threats to force the resignation of Treasurer Michael Costa. Again, the sooner the better, as far as I’m concerned.

If Iemma and Costa lose their jobs before pushing their privatisation through, it will, no doubt harm their prospects of well-paid post-political sinecures. But the financial sector looks after its own, and I’m sure something will be found for these loyal allies.

* I can’t recall ever reading much about the 1965 election which brought the startlingly corrupt Askin government to power, and introduced the one sustained period of Liberal rule with (I think) four election wins in a row. Still, Labor had been in for 24 years and the rightwing machine that has produced so many of our current hacks was already in charge, so I don’t think this can be a big exception to the rule.

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  1. Spiros
    February 25th, 2008 at 14:30 | #1

    Iemma, Costa, Tripodi.

    NSW has a government of southern Italians, and it shows.

  2. O6
    February 25th, 2008 at 15:15 | #2

    The background and party don’t matter. Think of Askin or Cahill or Wran. The mateship mindset rules

  3. February 25th, 2008 at 15:50 | #3

    If this issue does not awaken the voting public, democracy is wasted on them

  4. February 25th, 2008 at 15:51 | #4

    Why can’t we have recall elections like California?

  5. February 25th, 2008 at 16:11 | #5

    don, the fact that you think you have democracy pretty well explains why oz government is commonly corrupt and usually incompetent.

    terje: why? because the people can not recall until the people rule. it’s a type of government aristotle called ‘democracy’. [sorry, mr q, but when you start talking about political leprosy, medical jargon is indicated.]

    why are you so determined not to let the ‘c’ team* have a go? california runs very well with initiative, recall, referenda, and open government.

    * that’s the citizen team

  6. February 25th, 2008 at 17:08 | #6

    The quality of the NSW state government and opposition is partly a reflection of a lack of interest in state politics. It just doesn’t attract quality candidates. Would the likes of Turnbull, Rudd, Garrett, Combet, Shorten … every be attracted to state politics? Not a chance.

    So by all means let the B team have a go. Its all a matter of degree of awfulness. We can have bad, really bad, or really, really bad. I mean, what could possibly be worse than having a climate change denialist in charge of electricity privatisation?

  7. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2008 at 17:27 | #7

    Carr was capable enough, and I think Sartor and a few others in the current ministry are also capable. And I don’t think either Carr or Sartor started out venal. But the setup as a whole rewards both mediocrity and venality.

  8. swio
    February 25th, 2008 at 17:28 | #8

    The fixed four year terms for government that NSW adopted are a disaster for both democracy and the management of the state. The theory was that if the government did not have to spend all its time constantly worrying about the next election they could actually get on with running the state and perhaps focus on the long term a bit. Well that was optimistic. Instead all they do is feel invulnerable for most of their term and watch opposition become so irrelevant, difficult and unattractive that it has no hope of attracting anyone but talentless hacks or ideological nutjobs. I think NSW Labor are utterly incompetent. But at the next election I’ll almost certainly vote for them because the NSW Libs are not just utterly incompent but crazy social conservatives as well. Not to mention that even the prospect of a million or two votes is not enough to entice them down the M4 and M5 to a place they don’t completely believe exsists known as Western Sydney.

  9. February 25th, 2008 at 19:36 | #9


    Must say I have to agree with you, in the sense that yes..what we have is merely a facade…

  10. MH
    February 25th, 2008 at 19:48 | #10

    JQ I have long held the view that who gets up in NSW as leader in some strange way has morphed together some of the more peculiar characteristics of Sydney of the period (IF your a Sydneysider it is the dear characteristics). The pernicious hold Sydney as the populous area holds over the rest of very empty state is the key. For a town bent on concrete the buggery out of every nook and cranny that means appealing to the real estate fetish while promising not to, ergo, appearing to be independent of the mob but one of them. Askin, Wran, Griener and Carr all managed it. History would show the also-rans who replaced them were soon disposed of; Whats-his-name? Coleman, Unsworth, Fahey, and now Iemma all spring to mind as doomed replacements. The venality is tribal in Sydney town and don’t get in the road of the glib big end and housing, a simple formula. Carr swung the Sydney shallowness and pretence of superior Sydney intellect and multi-culturalism into a winning set piece and then departed to the glib end of town just like all the rest. The problem is the current Libs are more like fringe offshoot of Opus Dei and organisationally bankrupt of ideas and funds. I would be looking for an injection of a flag carrying Sydneysider into a safe labour seat well before the day to save the day. Who? Haven’t got a clue!

  11. James Farrell
    February 25th, 2008 at 20:02 | #11

    Carbonsink is on to something, but the problem in NSW is that the Opposition has actually been worse than mediocre. The normal accountability mechanism for corrupt and incompetent governments is the election, but you need to have a decent alternative government. Cousin Barry is doing a pretty good job, but his party is full of branch-stacking Christian dominionists, so I still won’t be voting for him.

  12. Socrates
    February 25th, 2008 at 22:21 | #12

    I agree with James. Iemma was elected by default. Growing up in Joh-era Queensland I am reminded of the line “behind every corrupt government is an incompetent opposition”.

    It really is becoming a ridiculous situation though – NSW is almost the biggest drain on the national economy at present. If you think our GDP growth figres look good, take NSW out of the equation to see some really impressive numbers. Even Adelaide is growing faster than Sydney in % terms at present.

  13. Tony G
    February 25th, 2008 at 22:35 | #13

    From time to time the “accumulated arrogance and corruption” of a Labour government is too much to take. From time to time the governor has been called in to deal with the stench they create, by sacking them. (Democracies arn’t perfect, so it is good to have some dictatorial power to clean them up)



    Unfortunately, the next election in NSW is 3 years away.It would be good if the Governor to do his (her) stuff and clean up the stench in NSW early.

  14. LuxuryYacht
    February 26th, 2008 at 00:59 | #14

    Bob Carr was not a good Premier. He was the master of the media event and government by Daily Telegraph. He was also the master at whenever there was a problem, reannounce an initiative and hope no-one notices that you haven’t started doing anything on it for the last 5 years. It was this sort of rubbish that has left:
    * the Pacific Highway a goat track;
    * the connection between the F3 and the M7 non-existent;
    * the main road north of Sydney closed for hours with even minor crashes;
    * shut down rail lines replaced by trucks;
    * a desal plant that will have to be paid for by everyone including those in the Hunter Valley who have always paid an economic price for water and have full dams as a result.

    And they’re the good policies! Get rid of this Rum Corp!

  15. LuxuryYacht
    February 26th, 2008 at 01:00 | #15

    Oh, and I voted “No” in the 1995 referendum that brought in 4-year fixed terms. 4-year fixed terms are the worst of all worlds.

  16. LuxuryYacht
    February 26th, 2008 at 01:03 | #16

    I agree with MH. Sydney is too big for the size of NSW. Sydney should be its own city-state so the rest of NSW can get on with life, and not have every cent of tax and resource rents sucked into the black hole that is the County of Cumberland.

  17. LuxuryYacht
    February 26th, 2008 at 01:07 | #17

    There are some really good Liberals in Parliament who are nowhere near being nutjobs. People like Gladys, the Hon. Michael, Andrew, and Barry himself are great MPs and will make great leaders of the State one day.

  18. Bobalot
    February 26th, 2008 at 06:20 | #18

    The problem is both parties have been hijacked by the loony right. The first party which moves itself to the centre of the political spectrum will win.

    NSW labor is crap. Lets all face it. But have you read what some of what the Liberals are for? They are even crappier (which is quite a achievement, you really need to try to do that)

  19. Socrates
    February 26th, 2008 at 09:17 | #19

    Luxury Yacht

    Are you seriously suggesting that the rest of NSW subsidises Sydney? There are very few regional areas of Australia (other than mining areas) that are not subsidised by city taxpayers.

    I agree with your views on Carr, who was better at spin than substance, but I think it takes a rather politically partisan view to suggest that the current NSW opposition contains much talent. If there are so many great people in it, then why have they picked their last few leaders?

  20. Spiros
    February 26th, 2008 at 11:13 | #20

    MH, it was the forgettable Tom Lewis who succeeded Askin.

    The NSW problem is that nothing has changed since 1792. The Rum Corps – in modern form, the corrupt cops, the labour council, the press barons, the property developers and the financiers – controls the state.

  21. February 26th, 2008 at 12:36 | #21

    A non Labour Government was elected in NSW in October 1927. Defeated in October 1930, it was returned to power in June 1932, holding office until May 1941.

  22. snuh
    February 26th, 2008 at 13:36 | #22

    the suggestion that costa could be forced to resign, and that watkins could be installed as premier, show an odd naivete.

    i know you think john that labor’s factions ought be abolished, but until that happens, things would have to be pretty dire (way way more dire than now) for watkins to be considered a potential premier. this is the nsw alp we’re talking about, and watkins is in the left. they might, maybe consider making him leader if there was an election in 2 months they were certain to lose (actually, probably not even then), but otherwise it’s just not going to happen.

  23. Spiros
    February 26th, 2008 at 14:54 | #23

    snuh is correct. The NSW Right would rather eat their own sh1t than have a Left Premier.

  24. matt byrne
    February 26th, 2008 at 17:37 | #24

    do any of you think that it is possible that we could see a minority green/ALP or indy/ALP government come next NSW election? It’s happened before under the Liberal Greiner government hasn’t it?

  25. Alan
    February 26th, 2008 at 21:00 | #25

    Actually, the stupidity of the NSW Right is proved just by comparing Andrew Refshauge, Carr’s deputy premier who was shunted aside for belonging to the wrong faction, and Iemma.

  26. Jill Rush
    February 26th, 2008 at 22:42 | #26

    The NSW government looks as if the fowls are coming home for Iemma and Costa.
    One of the areas which upsets people the most is in developments which make a few a great deal of money whilst leaving residents with long term problems. The government is making moves to ensure that the corrupt council is replaced by a corrupt State government which is more remote from decisions taken.

    If the Liberals hadn’t been taken over by right wing loonies the government would be looking at certain defeat. As it is the people of NSW are left with choices which are unenviable. The one hope at this point is the union movement to make the power brokers sit up and take notice that the decisions being taken will not be let off lightly.

    An alliance between the Greens and the union movement began during the Federal election. this alliance could be nurtured to have a big electoral impact if the parties for big business refuse to rule for the general electorate because they have done so many deals.No doubt if residents’ groups were encouraged there would be a force of great strength created.

  27. February 26th, 2008 at 22:55 | #27

    One of the areas which upsets people the most is in developments which make a few a great deal of money whilst leaving residents with long term problems.

    Not to mention homes to live in.

  28. Steve
    February 27th, 2008 at 08:43 | #28

    I’ve never voted liberal before, but am contemplating it at the next election.

    My question is: why the current lukewarm regard for Barry O’Farrell? He seems pretty good to me, speaks intelligently and clearly, and I don’t feel I need to roll my eyes and gnash my teeth when I hear him speak the way I do with Iemma. I think his main problem at present is that he is probably unknown to the general public, and therefore probably polls based on people’s perceptions of the wider party, still suffering its Debnam/exclusive brethren hangover.

    Come next election, if O’Farrell has demonstrated that he has got the religious nutcases within his party on a tight leash (preferably locked up somewhere), then he has my vote.

  29. MH
    February 27th, 2008 at 09:21 | #29

    You would have to Morris’s days are numbered. The demonstrations including dissenting MP’s against the electrical generation asset sell off said it all. All those getting a guernsey at the ICAC hearings are now the walking dead polically. The ‘Don’ Morris is not.

  30. Alastair
    February 27th, 2008 at 09:47 | #30

    The NSW Labor Government are doing an awful job and they deserve to be kicked out of office.

    It’s worth noting that the majority of NSW Liberal MPs belong to the moderate faction and that three out of four of the leadership positions in the NSW Liberal Parliamentary Party belong to moderate MPs.

  31. rog
    February 27th, 2008 at 16:30 | #31

    There has been some rumblings about cutting Sydney out of the equation, they seem to spend all the taxes taken from the State.

    A few thinkers are calling for a super council embracing the Hunter and Central Coast and keeping the money local. State Govts have become dysfunctional, in NSW at least.

  32. Alastair
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:04 | #32

    I believe that there is a case for abolishing State Governments and just having Federal and Local Governments. It could be much more efficient that way.

  33. SJ
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:18 | #33

    Good god. People can watch what’s going on right now with Wollongong Council and the ICAC, and seriously suggest that more of this would be a good thing?

  34. Alastair
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:30 | #34

    SJ I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that we should have people in power committing corruption or sex offenses – allegations which have been made against certain council members. What a ridiculous thing to say!

    Needless to say anyone guilty of such offenses should be put in jail. More reforms are needed to protect against corruption. Two examples are disclosure of all political donations, and no donations by deveopers.

  35. Alastair
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:31 | #35

    That is to say: no donations by developers to political parties

  36. SJ
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:54 | #36

    My point was that simply abolishing state governments won’t achieve anything in and of itself.

    If there are problems with State governments, you can’t make them disappear by replacing State governments with something that has the same, or worse, problems.

    Restricting donations would go some way to fixing the problems at state and local levels, as would severely restricing the ability of ex-polies to receive kick-backs in the form of employment with companies their decisions affected.

  37. Alastair
    February 27th, 2008 at 19:08 | #37

    My belief that there is a case for abolishing state governments is not some kind of knee-jerk reaction to this crappy state government that we have now.

    As I said in a previous post, it could make things easier eg. less red tape. This would apply even if you had a competent state government.

  38. JB-Melbourne
    February 27th, 2008 at 19:16 | #38

    Alastair – Greg Craven’s article in the Age today (and SMH?) explains very clearly why Federalism is essential.

  39. LuxuryYacht
    February 27th, 2008 at 21:14 | #39

    Alastair, I was wondering who was going to join my Unfederation Movement – abolish the Commonwealth Government!

  40. LuxuryYacht
    February 27th, 2008 at 21:24 | #40

    “A few thinkers are calling for a super council embracing the Hunter and Central Coast and keeping the money local. State Govts have become dysfunctional, in NSW at least.”

    Newcastle’s problem is that all of our wealth gets sucked into Sydney. All the mining royalties; all the water dividends; all the power generation dividends; all the port dividends. Then all the port expansion goes to dysfunctional Botany where the people don’t want it instead of to the old BHP site where everybody DOES want it.

    A super council of Sydney with the Hunter Valley in it would destroy what is currently a booming economy in Newcastle,

  41. Jill Rush
    February 27th, 2008 at 22:21 | #41

    You may not have noticed but the problems in Wollongong are not about housing which comply with the Development Plans but developments which don’t comply and which are questionable. The NSW Govt has a history of supporting development which is against the interests of existing residents.

    To argue that developers provide housing is naive. Slums of the future or other negative outcomes as a result of corrupt practices are leading to a stench around Labor in NSW which is filtering all over the nation. The Federal Government may also be implicated. At this stage no level of government appears clean and politics is the poorer for that. The Liberals have form in this regard too. There seems to be a vacuum which could give the Greens a much more powerful profile if they are able to move into it.

  42. February 28th, 2008 at 00:35 | #42

    Spiros wrote:

    Iemma, Costa, Tripodi.

    NSW has a government of southern Italians, and it shows.

    Costa is actually Greek and not Southern Italian. I recall, back in 2004, when someone wrote a letter to the SMH labelling him a fascist, he responded with an indignant letter protesting how his own parents had been oppressed by Italian fasicsts during the war (but he was strangely silent in the face of torrents of other letters deploring his handling of his transport portfolio).

    Be that as it may, I don’t see a great deal of difference between the mentality of Italian fascists and the mentality of Michael Costa, either back in 2004 or today.

    James Sinnamon
    Independent candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane

  43. February 28th, 2008 at 01:54 | #43

    I have to say, I take exception to any suggestion that, if there is a rebellion in Labor party ranks against the anti-Labor free market policies of the Iemma governments, that it necessarily follows that the NSW Liberals have the right to form government. In spite of overwhelming public opposition the Liberals won’t unequivocally commit themselves to opposing privatisation as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald article, Power privatisation vote to come sooner than expected.

    So, while nearly two thirds of NSW public opinion opposes privatisation (see ABC report), the union movement opposes it and the Labor Party Conference scheduled for May will almost certainly oppose it, Iemma and Costa have the gall to go ahead and try to ram their legislation, through Parliament before the Labor Party conference is due to be held.

    As Naomi Klein has shown in “The Shock Doctrine” (RRP $AU32.95) (see also NSW ELECTRICITY PRIVATISATION – A QUICK LOOK, MONDAY MESSAGE BOARD, WORSE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE, review), it is only through subverting democracy by such means that the neo-liberal goal of theft or public assets can be realised.

    Whilst it was heartening to read that 15 state Labor Parliamentarians joined yesterday’s protest, what use is it ultimately if they are not willing to vote against it in Parliament. Instead of acquiescing to the vote of the majority of the Labor caucus, which defies every true Labor principle, they should insist upon the expulsion from the Labor Party of each and everyone of the Labor members who voted for privatisation in the caucus. If they showed true backbone and determination, there is no reason why the NSW Labor Party could not be cleaned out in time to win any election which may be called.

  44. Alexander McLeay
    February 28th, 2008 at 11:24 | #44

    Jill Rush, almost all housing development is against the interest of existing residents, aside from in slums. The problem is, each generation is larger than the last (either because the last bred at greater than replace rate, or because of immigration, or both), and so new housing is needed.

    Expansion of our bloated cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane cannot continue indefinitely. We either need development to move to other country towns — which will involve a lot of work — or more higher-density living, otherwise housing will be too expensive and Australians will consider living elsewhere. This necessarily will be to the (perceived) detriment of many existing residents, but ultimately will be to the benefit of all Australians.

    (And, Alistair, I think getting rid of state governments would be the worst way to solve our current governmental problems and would, ultimately, cause more harm than good. Much better, as Terje says, to put the Commonwealth government at the financial mercy of the states; better still to make them each completely independent, and therefore with complementary duties.)

  45. Jill Rush
    February 28th, 2008 at 16:45 | #45

    Alexander Mcleay,
    Most development isn’t negative for existing residents except when the Development plans are flouted. The developments causing concern are those which ignore good planning principles and which require big bribes. It is the influence of corrupt practices which appears rife in Wollongong that is of concern.

    Development of itself isn’t a good or a bad thing. However those in local or state government who are bought to allow developers to flout good planning principles are bad for us all.

  46. Alastair
    February 28th, 2008 at 18:08 | #46

    Daggett, I agree with you post at #43.

    The 15 Labor MPs that participated in the protest will have made an empty gesture if they are not prepared to cross the floor and vote against the bill. I know that would break Labor Party rules, but then again this law is going against Labor Party principles and their platform.

    The NSW Labor Party really needs a clean-out. They need to get rid of Costa, Iemma, Tripodi, Sartor and their allies.

  47. Tony G
    February 28th, 2008 at 22:16 | #47

    Jill said;

    “To argue that developers provide housing is naive”

    That’s naive you apes isn’t it, didn’t you know we all live under trees and in caves.

    If Developers do not provide housing, could you inform us what do they provide?

  48. Jill Rush
    February 28th, 2008 at 22:36 | #48

    It is intriguing. You are the third commentator on this thread who has decided not to engage with the main point I have made about developers and corruption in NSW.

    Picking one sentence out of context, making a snide comment and then arguing that developers provide housing avoids the issues involved. The corrupt developers may or may not be interested in housing or they may be interested in housing which will create the slums of the future, or builds casinos or booze barns or on a good day an environmentally sustainable house. Development can be good or bad but when a developer corrupts the political process, democracy is weakened and developers are checked for white shoes.

  49. February 29th, 2008 at 00:53 | #49


    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my earlier post.

    Given the contempt shown to the people of NSW, the union movement and to the Labor party, and to basic principles of democracy, those 15 not only have a right to break ‘caucus solidarity’ (i.e. solidarity with the thieving parasitic vultures of the finance world), but an obligation to do so. To do otherwise would make those MPs little better than Costa et al.

    Should they choose to vote against privatisation, every one of those MP’s would by applauded as heroes by members of the Labor Party, the union movement and the public at large. The mass movement against the despicable clique lead by Iemma and Costa would be unstoppable. After many long decades (perhaps since 1932 when Jack Lang was sacked from office), NSW would finally have a proper Labor Government again.

  50. February 29th, 2008 at 01:40 | #50

    Jill Rush wrote: “Development can be good or bad.”

    No, it’s just plain bad. Almost the whole economy, that is, the part that is not engaged in quarrying and exporting our endowment of non-renewable mineral resources, is concerned with importing customers to buy houses in order to provide work for those who had previously been imported in order to buy houses in order to provide work for those who had previously been imported in order to buy houses in order to provide work for those who had previously been imported in order to buy houses in order to provide work for those who had previously been imported in order to buy houses …

    If you don’t believe me, just read the words of Queensland Labor Party Premier Anna Bligh who (as Deputy Premier) on 22 April 2007 defended Australia’s record high immigration by stating:

    THE Queensland Government has rejected a call to cap the southeast corner’s mushrooming population to help save its dwindling water supplies. …

    Deputy Premier Anna Bligh said a population cap was a simplistic solution that would place pressure on the economy.

    “The only way we could really do that is to put a fence up at the (Queensland) border, or to cancel or freeze all new home building approvals,” she said.

    “That would have a very serious impact on the construction industry that a lot people rely on for jobs.

    This is why the Mary Valley is now threaetened with inundation and its community, together with the threatened lungfish, the Mary River Cos and the Marry River Turtle are to be destroyed.

    If you want to learn how this state of affairs came about, read Sheila Newman’s 2002 Masters Thesis:

    The Growth Lobby and its Absence :
    The Relationship between the Property Development and Housing
    Industries and Immigration Policy in Australia and France ”
    (248 pages + notes 2.6Mb PDF)

    … downloadable from candobetter.org/sheila.

    James Sinnamon
    Independent candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane

  51. February 29th, 2008 at 01:46 | #51

    Sorry, I meant “Mary River Cod” and not “Mary River Cos”.

  52. February 29th, 2008 at 01:50 | #52

    And the source of the quote was “Bligh rejects call for population cap” in the Courier Mail of 22 April (presumably the online publication date as 22 April was a Sunday). I can’t the URL, but a less complete version can be found on the ABC at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200704/s1903565.htm

  53. Tony G
    February 29th, 2008 at 11:35 | #53


  54. Tony G
    February 29th, 2008 at 11:44 | #54

    Can anyone tell me whey this comes up when I try to post?

    Have I been banned / censured?

    Precondition Failed

    The precondition on the request for the URL /wp-comments-post.php evaluated to false.

  55. February 29th, 2008 at 12:19 | #55


    This sort of thing happens to a lot of us (although not lately to me).

  56. March 1st, 2008 at 15:18 | #56

    Can anyone comment on claims made the story Private power ‘cheaper’ in the Australian of Friday 29 February:

    JUDGING by the Victorian experience, households and businesses in NSW can expect lower prices following electricity privatisation, together with more choice for consumers and fewer supply interruptions.

    Greg Wilson, chairman of Victoria’s Essential Services Commission, said similar fears expressed by opponents of the Kennett government’s state power sell-off in the 1990s had proved baseless.

    “When you look back to the debate, and the view that this would lead to increases in profits and prices and under-investment, the facts themselves in our performance reporting show the opposite,” Mr Wilson said.

    Based on a standard annual electricity consumption of 4000 kilowatt hours peak and 2500kWh off-peak, the commission found customers could save $79-$150 through market offers, depending on the standing tariff, which ranged from $926 to $956 across the five retail areas.

    “Those detractors of the process in NSW who try to claim that the performances deteriorated in Victoria are actually completely wrong,” (said Brad Page, chief executive officer of the peak industry body, the Energy Supply Association).

    They do admit the record of privatisation in SA was “less clear-cut”. (I thought it was a total fiasco), but manage to conjure up a favourable spin to put on the whole experience:

    In South Australia, power interruptions have been stable, with the exception of the heatwave summer in 2005-06. South Australia received a net total of $4.9 billion for the breakup and sale of power, coal and gas assets between 1999 and 2001, compared with the $22.5 billion reaped by Victoria.

    All these these claims appear to superficially lend plausibility to the case for privatisation in a very narrrow limited sense, but one can be practically certain that we are being given far less than the complete picture.

    What we are certainly not being told of will be the loss of employment and training opportunities (i.e. ”feather bedding”) as has occurred withthe privaisation of Telstra.

    Tha Australian’s Editorial of the same day, perversely named Power to the people seized upon this study to push it’s usual pro-privatisation message. Naturally to the Murdoch editorial writers, the wishes of two- thirds of the NSW public whom it claims to have been duped by “a union-funded scare campaign” counts for nothing.

  57. March 2nd, 2008 at 09:35 | #57

    I see further heartening developments in the fight against privatisation in the SMH article “ALP Left ready to fight Costa” of 29 February:

    IEMMA Government MPs are on the brink of rebellion after one of the Labor Party’s most senior figures endorsed the right of ALP politicians to vote in Parliament against the planned privatisation of the state’s electricity industry.

    Luke Foley, the party’s assistant general secretary who leads the Left faction, has told his MPs that if the Treasurer, Michael Costa, introduced privatisation bills before the issue is debated at the ALP conference in May, the Government would be breaching an agreement with unions.

    Mr Foley reportedly told the (Left’s annual general) meeting: “A commitment was given that no legislation would be introduced prior to the party conference. If privatisation legislation is introduced prior to the conference, then MPs would be within the their rights to tell caucus that they would not vote for it when it came before Parliament.”

    Mr Foley was responding to a question from … one of 250 members at the gathering … Another Left member, the Sydney solicitor James Shaw, said Mr Foley was even more explicit, arguing that loyalty to party policy, which opposes power privatisation, was more important than the rule demanding caucus members vote together in Parliament.

    “Luke expressed the view that ALP rules on policy overrode the principal of caucus solidarity,” Mr Shaw told the Herald.

    “He said that he supported caucus solidarity in general but, because electricity privatisation was so obviously against party policy, Labor MPs were free to cross the floor – and everyone in the room totally supported Luke.”

    Mr Shaw said the delegates also passed a resolution unanimously opposing the privatisation.

    Mr Foley’s comments will embolden the 15 Labor politicians, including the right-wingers Paul Gibson and Grant McBride, who marched with 5000 unionists on Tuesday against the privatisation.

    His statement also directly contradicts Wednesday’s claim by the Energy Minister, Ian Macdonald, that no MP would cross the floor. …

    … Mr Foley has already felt the heat from unions and activists, who elected him at the last ALP conference, for helping to thwart a special anti-privatisation conference.

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