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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Character questions for 'Desalination Minister' Rees and Treasurer Costa getting serious
Mood:  sharp
Topic: nsw govt
The Hon. Nathan REES,  MP

Minister Nathan Rees has been conspicuous in the news defending Premier Morris Iemma's decision to build a super sized desalination plant. His boss Iemma is sounding like the proverbial buyer of an extra set of steak knives at a cheaper price from the big multinationals worried about all this rain ruining their project too.

There was Nathan Rees on the Trioli radio 702 show earlier today 27th June swearing blind the green energy scheme neutralises any greenhouse implications and talk back callers were thus misinformed. And we heard Premier Iemma 26th June same show argue the green energy component further helps on climate issues by cranking up the renewable energy sector with a chunky client.


Celebrate Aboriginal Australia: 

 Linda Burney MP launches NAIDOC week action at Addison Gallery Marrickville 2pm Sunday 8th July 07


But as Jeff Angel, Director of the Total Environment Centre in strained tones made clear on Trioli yesterday 26th June, all new green energy to be generated should be going into retiring dirty energy already streaming into our economy. In other words there is no net reduction in greenhouse gases.

(Though to be fair there is a premium in public policy terms in building the critical mass of the renewable energy sector in order to achieve more actual substitution in the future ...maybe. That much we concede to Iemma.)

But Nathan Rees was sounding too cute by half this morning airbrushing this reality, scolding the public along the way, always a risky move for a politician in the media.  It's a green energy lite sort of justification for this much bigger desalination plant compounding the broken 30% water storage threshhold election promise.

It's a population and higher consumption type of future this ALP is planning for, thus No stopping desalination even if dam spills over

But if Nathan Rees has a political character trait that glosses this situation involving some $1.7B in public funds expenditure, what other issues of character might he be accountable for too? Have we been here before?

Today there is also this devastating story about his former boss Minister Milton Orkopoulos:

Minister did not act on abuse - adviser

As this Lateline programme notes Nathan Rees was the chief of staff to Orkopoulous in 2006, broadcast 10/11/2006:

Iemma vows minister scandal will not affect govt

to quote reporter Simon Santow:

"SIMON SANTO: Long-term Labor MPs in the Hunter are promising to cooperate with any police investigations. Morris Iemma says he's avoiding contact with anyone who may end up as witnesses in court cases.

MORRIS IEMMA: What I am not going to do is interfere. There will be no interference in police investigations or court process.

SIMON SANTO: But he has quizzed his staffer, Nathan Rees, who was Milton Orkopolous' chief of staff until a few month ago.

MORRIS IEMMA: He gave me that assurance and he, in what was stated yesterday, if he can assist the police he'll make himself available to do so, as is proper.

SIMON SANTO: The Opposition says the Premier is applying double standards.

PETER DEBNAM: He has questioned a member of staff but refuses to question MPs. you've got to ask why."

We don't claim Rees is covering up for anything. But the very real public interest question arises, what did he know, and what role if any did he play in Orkopoulos's portfolio failure alleged in the Herald article above?

This very same question was raised in a phone conversation with a shadow minister to this writer 2 weeks ago when I initiated some lobbying.

If Rees was a mere flunky it would perhaps be an easier question. But Simon Benson who is often a conduit for praiseworthy stories for the NSW ALP govt

[the way Glenn Milne is for Peter Costello and Adam Spencer was described to be for the Iemma Govt (in a bitchy sledge by retired Fairfaxer Alex Mitchell)]

writes today:

Explosive battle of Right and Left looms or the web headline Opinion: Left and right do battle

where Benson states:

"Nathan Rees (emergency services) has emerged as a bull-terrier with an intellect to match his aggressiveness."

Clearly veteran state political reporter Simon Benson does not think Nathan Rees, Orkopoulos's former chief of staff is a fool or a flunky. On the contrary.

So what did Rees know and when did he know it, if anything? More on the whole grim affair before the courts now here Sex abuse: MP approached - National - smh.com.au

An otherwise popular MP Bryce Gaudry was damaged indirectly by the Orkopoulos affair if only by unlucky association and again not claiming any wrongdoing on Gaudry's part. Bryce was deselected causing a real controversy in the state election seat of Newcastle.

Yet Rees has sailed on and is now doing Iemma's misleading rhetoric on green energy allocations in an economy already up to its eyeballs in coal fired dirty energy. Character indeed.


Postscript #1 5.30 pm 27th June 2007

The NSW Govt has pulled on a dirty plume in Warragamba Dam story, which is a non story because they already admit there is no threat to water supplies. But it seems to be working with this leading the Herald web news page:

Warragamba pollution threat

ANDREW CLENNELL 4:15pm | Heavy rain over the past week has triggered a massive plume of pollution in Sydney's main dam.

This despite National Party leader Stoner via 4pm and 5pm ABC radio news reports having been booted from parliament on the Rees character question of the Breaking the Silence report while he was chief of staff in the relevant portofolio but Glover ABC 702 for instance are studiously ignoring the much more sinister scandal as above. 

Unlike the Daily Telegraph here

Nationals MP thrown out of parliament

NSW Nationals MP Andrew Stoner says he is happy to be ejected from parliament if it brings attention to the abuse of children in the state's indigenous communities.  Read more

Ironic given it was Rees dissembling on the desal green energy with Glover yesterday that got us riled up over his character, as it did with Glover actually at the time in the interview. Rees deserves no favours.

Postscript #2

This editorial last Saturday about Treasurer Costa and the NSW Iemma Govt having alot to be embarrassed about over lack of credible response to the Breaking the Silence report resonates: Editorial: Iemma Government must follow Howard's cue. What a shame it takes a cynical Howard Govt shamelessly playing the angles to expose another shameful State Govt on Aboriginal child welfare. Disgusting really.

It was Iemma soon after March 07 election that confidently asserted this was "a good government" and to ignore claims otherwise.

No we didn't buy it either. Notice this quote last weekend in It's the economy, stupid: Costa's tough stand - National - smh.com.au by Andrew Clennell, chief state political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, regarding power drunk Treasurer Michael Costa

"[Costa] defends a decision last year not to hand over $20 million to $40 million to three ministers who wanted it for a program to tackle Aboriginal child sex abuse, saying his policy and that of the Premier was that ministers needed to find savings in other areas if they wanted new initiatives. "I haven't knocked anything back," he says. "I said, as I say to all ministers, these are important initiatives; when you come up with important initiatives you ought to look at the initiatives that are not working and see whether you can transfer resources."

This is the same Michael Costa who, as then NSW Labor Council secretary of the union movement was making real gains on the issue of workers compensation insurance levels when he suddenly was appointed to the financially comfy Upper House to replace an ALP vacancy of the Carr Govt.

This was Costa's stirring clarion call via Workers Online in 1999 until he got a new job offer:

"The NSW Labor Government was also sent a blunt message: 'Fix up the crisis. Make employers comply with no cut back to benefits.'

Addressing the rally outside Parliament House, NSW Labor Council Secretary Michael Costa said: 'Workers comp is got to be put back on track. It's got to be put back into a form which does what it was originally set up for. And that is to protect workers rights, to protect workers interests and to ensure they get fair compensation if they are injured.' "

The campaign struggled on and was making serious headway by 2001. Then just as it was getting sticky for Carr's govt on this big financial issue Costa sold out that campaign and joined the NSW Upper house Nov 2001. Not for him any public anxiety or hedging like Greg Combet most of 2007when he was urged to go into federal Parliament from the ACTU. No Costa jumped in a flash as we recall.

Here is Costa vowing to carry the torch for the workers in his new comfy job 20 April 2001

"Costa To Join Della’s List

Labor Council secretary Michael Costa last night added his name to Della's List and vowed to continue his fight for fair workers compensation ahead of his move to the NSW Upper House in August.





Costa formally announced his resignation from his position at Labor Council to take effect from August 30. He will move to the NSW Legislative Council to fill the vacancy left by ALP stalwart Johnno Johnson.

His departure come after 13 sometimes turbulent years at the Labor Council. He rose to notoreity first as a Wollongong activist, then as a rank and file official with the then AFULE rail union.

Costa survived Presidential inquiries and a stint as General Manager at 2KY to become an activist secretary.

He earned the eternal ire of Friends of Currowong, the hatred of the Daily Telegraph, the respect of the Carr Government and the joyful bemusement of his trade union colleagues.

"Former secretaries have told me that this is the best job I could ever had," Costa told delegates, "and they're right.This is a fantastic job and I have loved every minute of it,"

Costa has vowed to continue fighting the workers compensation campaign and has been asked to be placed on the List of MPs supporting amendments to protect injured workers "provisionally". " [bold added]

In reality the gathering Union campaign momentum for strong workers compensation levels and legal system fell apart from the time Costa was bought out to the benefit of the NSW budget. John Robertson struggled on manfully but was too new and unknown to cut through.  The legal integrity of the system was smashed at the expense of injured workers as per this "devastating" report here by The Australian's legal editor Chris Merritt May 18th 2007 page 24 whereas Costa jumped ship to a cosy seat, and now as Treasurer. Betrayal of trust and public duty? We think so.

Postscript #1

Big Media follow our story here 29th June 2007

Minister rues remark about 'kiddie fiddlers' - National - smh.com.au

Posted by editor at 12:44 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 3 July 2007 1:33 PM NZT

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