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NSW Greens defend O'Farrell

NSW Greens leader John Kaye defends Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell. O'Farrell and the NSW Opposition are now under concerted attack by the corporate sector and their newsmedia for having blocked Treasurer Costa's privatisation legislation in accord with the wishes of over 80% of the NSW public last Thursday.

See also: Iemma dodges his own $42 billion debt bomb (SMH, 1 Sep) by Barry O'Farrell, Mike Baird should make his move now - Online Opinion forum discussion about pro-privatisation state Liberal MP Mike Baird, now the darling of the corporate newsmedia.

What you can do: Join FaceBook site Support Clean Energy NOT Privatisation of NSW Electricity run by NSW Liberal MLA Peter Debnam. Peter Debnam's statement on privatisation can be found here and is also appended to this article.

O'Farrell pointing in right direction on sell-off while Baird losing plot

Media release: 31 August 2008

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell's decision to stop the privatisation of the electricity generators is sound public policy, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye said: "Even from the standpoint of the Coalition's economic philosophy, passing NSW Treasurer Michael Costa's power sell-off legislation would not have been in the public interest.

"While Mr O'Farrell is being attacked by his friends in the business lobby, his focus on managing electricity demand would result in lower household energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

"Unfortunately the Opposition's Energy and Finance Spokesperson Mike Baird appears to have fallen for the myth that this state needs more baseload generation capacity.

"Even though Mr Baird is now lining up behind the Opposition's official stance opposing the sell-off, he has clearly failed to understand that the Iemma government has been badly misleading the people of NSW.

"He should cast a critical eye over Treasurer Michael Costa's arguments.

"Whether it is to balance the state's books or to attract private capital into baseload power, whatever today's rationale for the sell-off is, it does not stack up.

"Mike Baird should also take a closer look at Mr Costa's declaration of war on the public sector.

"The power sell-off is only the opening gambit in a plan to devastate the delivery of public services and infrastructure in this state.

"Not only will this receive a deeply hostile reaction from the voters but it also makes no economic sense.

"Treasurer Costa is completely out of control and headed on a collision course with common sense.

"Mike Baird should do his duty as an Opposition spokesperson. He should join with the Greens, rebel Labor MPs, the union movement and the majority of his own party to block this potential disaster," Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

See also: Iemma dodges his own $42 billion debt bomb (SMH, 1 Sep) by Barry O'Farrell.

What you can do: Join FaceBook site Support Clean Energy NOT Privatisation of NSW Electricity run by NSW Liberal MLA Peter Debnam who resigned from the Liberal Front bench because at the time he considered that the stance by Opposition Leader against privatisation was not sufficiently strong. Peter Debnam's statement on privatisation can be found here and is also appended to this article.

Appendix: Electricity privatisation statement by Peter Debnam MP - 12th may 2008

Original statement published on www.peterdebnam.com.au

I have been opposed to Michael Costa’s Electricity Privatisation and despite lacking the numbers in Parliament to stop it, I’ve argued for the Coalition to take a strong stand against the privatisation and in favour of clean renewable energy. However, in my view, the conditional acceptance announced late last week by the Coalition effectively surrenders to Costa’s Privatisation.

Given my strong views, it is untenable for me to continue as the Shadow Minister for Energy and remain on the frontbench simply biting my tongue. As a result, on Friday I advised Barry O’Farrell that I will sit on the backbench when Parliament resumes this week and I understand Barry will today announce frontbench re-arrangements.

While stepping down from the frontbench, I will continue in Parliament until at least the 2011 state election and I will do everything I can over the next three years to aggressively hold this hopeless Government to account and get rid of them.

I will also work to expose the fraud of Costa’s Electricity Privatisation and, whether the Privatisation proceeds or not, I will promote the enormous opportunity for NSW to embrace and export the technology of Clean Renewable Energy – especially solar.

I describe the Privatisation as Costa’s because it is not a Labor Plan and the Premier is little more than an occasional mouthpiece for Michael Costa on this issue. Most of the grassroots Labor Party (not just the unions) oppose Costa’s Privatisation. They along with the community of New South Wales have been betrayed.

As I did, Morris Iemma went to last year’s state election, assuring the community that electricity would NOT be privatised. It was clear at that time there was no need for privatisation. It is only since the election, we have the seen the Premier and Treasurer’s increasingly hysterical claims that electricity must be privatised or the sky will fall in. The reality is that nothing has changed since the election other than the votes are in the ballot box for another term.

But less than a week AFTER the election, while I was still Opposition Leader, I was being lobbied by sections of the media to support Michael Costa’s electricity privatisation.

During the election campaign, I confirmed on several occasions that the NSW Coalition would NOT privatise electricity and noted there are more pressing issues other than ownership to be addressed - including the structure of the industry to attract private investment (not simply flog off current assets) and the need to transform the industry to clean renewable energy and to pursue energy efficiencies.

Indeed, we proposed significant changes in our 2007 Election Policy “For Future Generations – A Plan to protect the Environment and tackle Climate Change.” That policy included not only a 20% Renewable Energy Target by 2025, but also investment in solar water heaters for homes and schools and funds to support the development of Australia’s first large-scale solar generator in northern NSW. Those initiatives were well received.

I remain opposed to Costa’s fire-sale of assets which is simply to find more money for the Iemma Government to splash around in the next election campaign - with the added expense of handing over more than $100 million in fees to merchant banks participating in the Costa Privatisation.