Nile pawn in Baird government power sell off

Issue 
John Kaye.

The Baird Coalition government is rushing its legislation for the privatisation of NSW power assets through the Legislative Assembly, without waiting for the report of the Legislative Council’s inquiry into the sell-off, due on June 2.

The move to fast track the bill before the inquiry, chaired by Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile, releases its report, exposes the inquiry as a sham, according to Greens NSW MLC John Kaye. Premier Mike Baird has ridden roughshod over the process and denied the public a proper investigation into the long-term impacts of the sale.

Kaye said on May 26: "The inquiry was the product of a deal between the NSW Liberal National government and ... Fred Nile. It was supposed to give Nile a bit of cover and publicity in return for supporting the long-term leases of the state's electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure.

"Instead it has left him deeply exposed to the allegation that this was just a stitch-up that was always destined to deliver a pro-privatisation outcome."

Meanwhile Nile, whose vote is crucial to the government eventually getting the legislation through parliament, has said he is unhappy the bill is being introduced early. He said the government had promised to wait for the findings of the inquiry before bringing in the bill.

He told ABC News he had wanted the inquiry's findings to be incorporated into the government's bill from the outset and indicated that the move might jeopardise his support.

Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Summer Hill in the March NSW elections, slammed the Baird government's move to rush the sell-off bill through parliament without even a “fig-leaf of public accountability".

"This is a further indication that Baird may be in danger of contracting 'Campbell Newman Syndrome'," she said on May 28.

Former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was thrown out of office last January just one term after winning a landslide election result in 2012.

"Just because Baird won the recent NSW election won't protect him from a big swing in public opinion. His growing arrogance and reactionary policies, such as the sale of the power industry to private multinationals, against the interests of the community and the environment, will lose him support around the state," she said.

"This lethal combination of the federal and state governments' anti-worker and pro-big business agendas could easily see both governments tossed out of office at the next federal and state elections.

"In the meantime, we need to build a mass movement off opposition to these regimes, which are both based on 'unfairness' and class warfare on behalf of the rich."

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