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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Costa's jackboot march to power privatisation and a quick exit to the corporate sector?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: nsw govt


The cynicism of the Iemma Govt knows no bounds.

Alex Mitchell, veteran of Fairfax now retired and sometime contributor to crikey.com.au had a strident attack yesterday on Verity Firth MP over her cynical air quality claims for Sydney just prior to the federal election. Indeed we made some comments amplifying just how cynical:

Note to Sydney: It's not lawnmowers harming foetuses

Similarly Gavin Gatenby who is known to be behind the Nick Possum column in the Sydney City Hub and online here had a cracking lead letter in Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald 8th Jan 08 about squandered motorway funds called  

Letters: An oil crisis long expected, but the roads just keep coming

Point well made by alter ego to bushy Nick Possum in his own Chandler-esque Aussie genre that somehow captures the fear and loathing of cynical sleazy NSW, and especially Sydney, politics so well:

And tucked away in the specialist Local Govt pages of the Herald is this diplomatic outrage at more cynical corrupt alteration of pro developer planning rules by Minister Sartor:

Planners in two camps on proposed reforms

The same minister rebuffed by the courts here for abuse of the envrionment

Court agrees climate-change risk rules out housing plan

Truly the Sydney Morning Herald can at times lay claim to being the most important newspaper in Australia for getting to the heart of things.

And the doozy of them all, the $15 billion public utility selloff announced in the confusion of a federal govt transition in late Nov 07, with subsequent exhaustion of unions and public both, barely 8 months after going to the NSW election with no such policy.

There aint nothing that doesn't stink about this timing. From the ex unionist Costa as installed Treasurer who now champions the role of private industry to run a natural power monopoly, to the Premier's use of public money to promote sleazy tv PR, when the ALP condemned the Howard Govt for same.

The ALP itself is greatly disturbed which is saying something given it has been compromised and corrupted by decades of big business donations. This assertion is borne out by the article page 2 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph today:

police clash with protestors outside parliament in 2001   Unions wage war on power sale

EXCLUSIVE: UNIONS are revolting against Morris Iemma's power sell-off - organising a protest outside Parliament House to rival the famous 2001 blockade.

The ALP hierarchy in NSW can't be trusted on money being the subtext to this of 3rd Jan 2008:

Campaign … Michael Costa and Morris Iemma.

Iemma denies privatisation price rise link - National - smh.com.au 

and this 'enough rope' effort of Costa in person in the opinion pages same day:

Unions' electricity reforms scare campaign just isn't based on facts

Costa indeed appears to have been caught (how unsurprising) lying about the affect of price increases after privatisation here in Victoria and in the UK as per these letters in the Sydney Morning Herald 4th Jan 2008:

Costa caught out
Michael Costa writes that "in Britain prices are now substantially lower than they were before" privatisation ("Unions' electricity reforms scare campaign just isn't based on facts", January 3). A British Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology report says that "household electricity bills have risen by 45 per cent since 2003".

British Energy, which supplies one-fifth of Britain's power, was sold for £2.1 billion in 1996 and had to be saved from bankruptcy in 2002 by the taxpayer chipping in £3 billion. Since then taxpayer liability has increased to £5.3 billion ($11.9 billion), according to the National Audit Office. But the shareholders are doing fine, thanks very much.

Jim Iveson Hornsby Heights

Mr Costa, would you please provide references as to where privatising electricity provision has improved service and reduced prices to consumers?

New Zealand has had woeful problems, with Auckland being blacked out for days. Melbourne lives with brown-outs in summer and winter. South Australia has prices that are rising far more quickly than inflation. Rural England lives with the real issue of random black-outs.

Your attempt to deflect the focus onto a union bash is not only a poor distraction, it may be outright deceit.

Brian Kelly Carlingford

Not beyond a bit of scare-mongering himself, Michael Costa's main justification for privatising the electricity industry is that spending $15 billion by the NSW Government would "reduce spending in other areas such as education, health and other essential services".

What seems to have escaped Mr Costa's and the Premier's attention is that the people don't want this privatisation, the proposal was not given any publicity in last year's election campaign and, because of blatant examples of profiteering in other privatisations, no one trusts what may be said in advance or the strength of any controls relating to pricing as this is just part of the spin to get the deal over the line.

Ross Butler Rodd Point

We read about a meeting of unionsts there in Sussex street Jan 8th 2008

 Unions wary of advisers for power privatisation

We wonder if Michael Costa who is now treasurer though never elected to Parliament in his own name, can still recall the values behind the mural in the foyer there at Sussex St, as shown above? Costa is a 'growth economics at any cost' kind of guy. Grow the cake, trickle down economics, bugger the environment exemplified by the hyper expansion of Port Botany which brings us indirectly back to air quality impacts for millions of Sydneysiders (diesel trains, truck tunnel stacks). 

Costa similarly won't have any problems with the creative destruction of capitalism trashing the public power assets on the basis that more money will be released and somehow (?) distribute to the benefit of NSW families. Or more like some very select or already very rich share owning and corporate executive families.

On the other hand John Robertson in charge of Unions NSW today, successor to Costa, was in the vanguard of the Walk Against Warming climate change rally in 2006 or so.

 Secretary John Robertson
Secretary John Robertson

He might think the way forward to benefit ALL NSW families is to actually get our green energy house in order, best done within the paradigm of the public sector? He would probably be right. We tend to trust John Robertson alot more than Michael Costa on such matters. Robertson has delegated the lead role in the anti privatisation campaign to another unionist speaker but we imagine he is right in there too.

And groups such as Public Interest Advocacy Centre here via one of the citizen email strings:

UTS/PIAC Report on Electricity Privatisation

A report commissioned by PIAC into the findings of the Owen Report into the future of electricity in NSW was released on 10 December 2008, the same day the NSW Government announced its intention to sell off the
State-owned power stations and energy retailers. The report, which was prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS, reviews the economic, environmental and consumer impacts of the recommendations of the Owen Report. The UTS report argues that the recommendations made by Owen are based on flawed assumptions, such as that NSW needs to privatise the industry to pay for new power stations.

PIAC is concerned that privatisation will not result in lower prices or better service and will adversely effect low-income and disadvantaged households.

PIAC's view is that instead of building new coal- or gas- fired power stations, the NSW Government should be investing more in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Electricity supply in NSW: alternatives to privatisation 10 December 2007

We rang PIAC and chatted to policy officer Mark Byrne and they are upgrading their web based information further on this topic soon. This sounds wise because PIAC had quite a role to play back in the 1997 privatisation controversy also (as did this writer).

We continue to suggest that wiser financial path forward for this ALP-Iemma Govt is to follow the bipartisan Public Account Committee report of 1991 to separate out the finances of the plantation versus native forest sector. Then sell the former for about $1 billion as a big boost to the public revenue for infrastructure and breaking a loss making native forest industry on the public teat to the tune of we estimate $100M per year either as

1. locked up capital in an essentially private sector activity or

2. lost revenue squandered on native forest subsidies for free roading, bureaucracy etc

Referencing for this submission is here:

Friday, 4 January 2008
Postscript #1
We didn't realise Mark Byrne of Public Interest Advocacy Centre had this rather cutting pursuasive letter in the Sydney Morning Herald same day 9th Jan 2008:

And Mark Byrne here at Online Opinon 


Posted by editor at 11:27 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008 3:41 PM EADT

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