Red News Readers,
What game are the NSW Liberals playing here? They are represented here as being satisfied by Costa, but on radio they are saying don't count on us to support privatisation?
Costa agrees to Opposition's electricity wishes
Brian Robins and Andrew West, smh
May 30, 2008
IN THE clearest indication yet that the Premier will win the dispute about electricity privatisation, the Treasurer, Michael Costa, has revealed the Government will support the Opposition's proposed changes to the legislation.
The tactic will force the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, to support the legislation and thus decrease the likelihood of Labor MPs voting against it.
The move was revealed as the secretary of Unions NSW, John Robertson, said talks with the Government on the sale had broken down.
"I want to state clearly and emphatically today that there are no meaningful negotiations going on with the Government," Mr Robertson said.
"At no point has this Premier or his Treasurer offered to give any ground on the Treasurer's fundamentalist, ideological agenda to privatise electricity. Negotiations are over. They are finished."
But Morris Iemma said talks were continuing. "We're disappointed in the comments, as my door has always been open - and remains open - to allow the unions to put propositions to the Government," Mr Iemma said.
Mr Costa said yesterday the Government would meet the Opposition's demands. "We will meet all their conditions. They're being specific about the Auditor-General, in some things. I think statutorily it can't do some of the things they've asked for. But there are other ways around that."
The Opposition wants the Auditor-General to assess the sales of the electricity assets before they occur. Routinely, the Auditor-General would assess deals after they have been concluded.
"This is a major transaction involving state crown jewels, and it shouldn't just be decided in the back rooms between Iemma, Costa and the unions," said the Opposition's treasury spokesman, Greg Pearce. "The big one is the independent check by the Auditor-General, which includes timing and the pricing, and also the consumer guarantees."
Along with having the Auditor-General do "probity assurance" and "assess the pricing and terms and conditions" of sales, the Opposition wants a "rural and communities impact statement" and an independent body to monitor the use of funds raised. The body would include the Auditor-General, a community representative and a financial expert.
"And we also want a parliamentary oversight committee to guarantee the improvements in clean, green and renewable energy" the Government had committed to, Mr Pearce said.
A spokeswoman for the Premier said legislation was likely to go before Parliament in the week of June 17.