Saturday, August 30, 2008

NSW, a parlous state

Oh my heartbreak old New South Wales. A roller coaster week, featuring yet another assault on our energy assets, revealed the depths of the social and political hole we are in.

We have a weak premier, unable to fill the boots of his predecessor and supported by equally hopeless ministers. Our major opposition party, the Liberals, are crippled by a party structure dominated by the extreme right. The political rum and junior conservative partners, The Nationals, are all but dead but refuse to lie own.

Premier Iemma recalled parliament this week, at great cost, for a show down on the sell off of the state’s power assets. He assumed he had forced his conservative opponents, supporters of privatization anyway, into approving his bid. Like everything else his administration tries, it was pure bully tactics.

For there part the conservative side had nothing to lose by rejecting Iemma’s legislation, and with a number of his own party ready to defect as well the enabling bill was rapidly withdrawn.

Why so desperate to sell
It’s all to common now, whether ideologically or greed driven, to sell of assets that rightfully belong to the people. The results are a short term economic windfall and a long term loss of control of essential services. I can’t think of one example where the people of this country have benefited from an asset sale.

The desperation of Iemma’s Labor government to force this sale has been evident for a long time. With one of the key drivers, Treasurer Michael Costa, offering to resign as soon as the sale is achieved it is not unreasonable to suspect a post parliament job deal has been hatched.

But in the wake of this latest failure, and with news of a new backdoor attempt, another piece of puzzle has been revealed. Unless the sale is made finance rating group Standard & Poors have suggested NSW will lose its AAA credit rating.

Well, so be it! Labor has ruled NSW for the past 13 years; they must bear the responsibility of any sudden economic disaster, though in reality we all wear it. However an asset sale is not the solution, particularly when it also gets this badly performing government off the hook to wreak more havoc on the economy.

Time for a fresh election?
It is still early in the cycle, but the Iemma government have clearly breached election promises not to sell off power. Those same forces which came together this week to stop the sell off bid should return to parliament again and vote the government down.

I realize that would include members of the premier’s own Labor party, but he has been as dishonest to them as he has the rest of the state. I’m not sure O’Farrell’s Liberals have what it takes to win an election, but surely between the parties there is sufficient quality talent to form a far better government than we currently have.

It is not even like there is any great ideological gap now, just purely tribal. It is a radical thought, a broad coalition of MP’s as opposed to the mess we now have. It really is time to look beyond the increasingly dysfunctional party system toward effective governance.

No comments: