NSW Electricity Privatisation Links

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by Ian MacDougall, 10 May 08

The ostensible argument for power privatisation is that NSW needs the money for schools, hospitals and other expenditure. The reality is that sale of capital is touted as the way to finance ongoing expenditure, analogous to the classic case of the farmer who sells off a bit of the farm each year to keep the family clothed and food on the table.


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The Labor Party ranks according to Michael Egan

by Ed Lewis, 9 May 08

The public discussion over electricity privatisation in NSW is increasingly becoming a traditional union bash in the media. Today, Michael Egan, another former Labor Party official and politician, steps forward to read about a properly respectful attitude towards politicians.

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by Ed Lewis, 8 May 08

Another banker weighs in on the Iemma-Costa side of the NSW electricity privatisation battle today, although it’s obvious Babcock and Brown’s Stephen Loosley is a bit better informed about the present state of the Labor Party than either Paul Keating or Bob Carr.

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by Graham Matthews, Green Left Weekly, 10 May 08

The plan for the privatisation of electricity in NSW is like the mythical creature the hydra, which had multiple heads. It had to be “killed” many times before it would actually die — and every time it was “killed” it could bite back apparently unharmed

by Tim Dunlop, 5 May 08

Isn’t it the case that the people of NSW are against privatisation; the Labor Party’s platform is against privatisation; and the Premier went to the last election promising not to privatise the state’s electricity? So that by now saying he will privatise electricity, isn’t the Premier defying the will of the people, ignoring his own party’s platform (and conference), and breaking an election commitment?

It’s all very well to get a in a tizz about “unions running the state” and other clichés from the conservative playbook, but in this case, by what right can Mr Iemma justify his disregard of public opinion, his party platform, and his own election commitments?

by Tim Dunlop, 30 Apr 08

by Tim Dunlop, 11 Dec 07

Brian Robins and Alexandra Smith, SMH 11 Dec 07
As Tim Dunlop "an uncritical article which (happily) buys into the line."

by John Quiggin, 19 Jun 08

by John Quiggin, 21 Dec 07

, John Quiggin 12 Dec 07

, John Quiggin 11 Dec 07

by John Garnaut, The Age, 12 May 08

SOONER or later, some anti-privatisation activist will start doing background checks on China Huaneng Group, which is at the front of the queue to bid for $15 billion in NSW power assets. They'll see that Sydney might soon be powered by the world's biggest corporate contributor to global warming.

, SMH, 11 May 08

Michael Costa's bully-boy tactics may have hurt Labor but not the Premier or his privatisation plans, reports Andrew Clennell.

, SMH, 10 May 08

Michael Costa's bully-boy tactics may have hurt Labor but not the Premier or his privatisation plans, reports Andrew Clennell.

, SMH, 19 Apr 08

by Paul Keating in SMH 30 Apr 08
Paul Keating, who counducted his own fire sale of Commonwealth Government assets, and broke his 1993 election pledge not to fully privatise the half-privatised Commonwealth bank lends his moral support to Iemma, and Michael Costa, whom he describes as "as honest a pair of souls as NSW politics has had".

, SMH, 6 May 08

, ABC News, 7 May 08

, AAP in SMH of 4 May 08

Includes utterances by Wayne Swan and Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull's take, before Iemma was lionised by the media for subsequently defying the decision of the Labor Party, not to mention the NSW public:

"Morris Iemma seems to have lost the confidence of much of his party room and the vast majority of the Labor Party, he is a broken premier, and the tragedy for NSW is he is in power until 2011, well at least the government is."

, The Australian editorial of 5 May 08
This contains such gems as:

“If electricity privatisation can be defeated because unions representing a few thousand electricity workers don't like it, how difficult would it be to stare down union interests to overhaul health and education?” Thus the editorial ignores the wishes of two thirds of the NSW public opinion who now oppose privatisation and who in 1999 emphatically repudiated the Liberal Party when it stood for elctions on a platform of electricity privatisation.

“NSW is still paying a heavy financial price for Mr Carr's submission to trade union power.” (In fact, as Professor John Quiggin has on 27 Dec 07, the defeat of Carr’s privatisation bid “ in 1997 saved the NSW public between $5 and $10 billion.”)

“Mr Iemma must demonstrate that he is prepared to govern for all people and ignore the demands of state conference. ”

in the Melbourne Age of 5 May 08

in Newcastle Herald of 5 May 08

in the Australian of 5 May 08

SMH, 30 Apr 08

, ABC Online News, 5 May 08

, SMH 5 May 08

, Bloombergs, 5 May 085 May 08
Australian corporate energy users urge Iemma to defy NSW public and Labor Party conference decision.

, SMH, 4 Apr 08

, The Australian, 12 May 08

Imre Salusinszky, who had triumphally gloated how the fight over privatisation was all over on the day of the capitulation of ‘opponents’ of privatisation at the NSW parliamentary Labor caucus meeting of 6 May, now writes, “Unions and the NSW Labor Government are no closer to a deal on electricity privatisation, more than a week after Premier Morris Iemma announced he was pressing ahead with the power sale despite a massive rebuff from the party's state conference.“

, Matthew Warren, The Australian, 9 May 08

Lots of straw men set up and demolished, for example:

“Given such a display of finger-pointing, yelling and fist shaking, you'd think privatising the electricity market was a giant leap of faith in government policy; a bold step into the unknown.

“It is neither. One-third of the 45,000MW of Australia's electricity generation capacity comes from privately owned power suppliers. Victorian and South Australian generators and retailers were privatised a decade ago. ...”

In fact the consequnces of privatisation are all too well known, with the sorry outcomes of the privatisations of the Commonwealth Bank, , State Banks and Insurance companies. Only recently the New Zealand government , because it had found that these services had been run down by their private opoerators, which is precisely the opposite of the claims being made of what privatisationof electricity will achieve.

“Typically, former prime minister Paul Keating didn't hold back earlier this week, publishing a demolition of Unions NSW's anti-privatisation position that was aired so robustly last weekend.” ( - see above)

Of Course, there is no mention of NSW Green MLA John Kaye's media release in response of 6 May 08 which exposes a number of factual errors in Keating's supposed 'robust' 'demolition'.

, John Garnaut, SMH, 9 May 08

CHINA'S largest power company has its eyes on Morris Iemma's $15 billion sell-off, as part of an ambitious strategy to buy Australian power, coal and even uranium assets.

(pdf) by D. Cahill and S Beder.

Abstract: This article examines the process of electricity privatisation in Australia in order to identify the dynamics of neo-liberalism in practice. It is argued that neo-liberalism is best understood as a particular mode of regulation in which the state legislates to secure freedoms for capital. In the case of electricity privatisation the main beneficiaries have been corporations rather than consumers and this has been facilitated by a whole host of new state regulations.

, April 2008 (pdf, 29K) by Professor Frank Stilwell.

, NSW business Chamber, 10 Dec 07

, 24 Apr 08

Document by Freehills

Shows how privatisation of NSW and indeed all publicly owned utilities was promoted by the Council of Australian Governments (i.e. the Howard Government and eight state ’Labor’ governments) meeting of April 2007

ERIG found that government ownership (especially in electricity) acted as a barrier to entry and an impediment to competition. To improve contestability and efficiency in Australian energy markets, ERIG recommended disaggregation and full privatisation of government-owned energy assets throughout Australia. This should take place as soon as feasible, given the practicalities of the privatisation process. The recent sale of the Queensland Government’s retail energy assets was seen as a good example for other states.

ERIG (the Energy Reform Implementation Group, established by COAG in 2006) acknowledged that privatisation may be politically sensitive(our emphasis) but emphasised that privatisation of even one element of the contestable energy chain would help to increase efficiency. ERIG proposed a number of lesser options, including the disaggregation of government-owned electricity assets and providing ‘clear signals’ to private investors (the approach adopted by the Western Australian Government was commended).