Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iemma & Costa Lose Conference Vote

At the NSW State Labor Party Annual Conference, held at Darling Harbour, NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa were resoundingly defeated in their motion to privatise NSW electricity assets. The vote was 107 for, and 702 against. That is, 88% of delegates voted against privatisation of NSW's electricity assets, assets which generated a return (dividend and 'income tax equivalent') of more than $1.2 Billion in 2006-07.

It is a significant defeat for Treasurer Costa, who has been the driving force: Premier Iemma has just been along for the ride, but nevertheless spruiking the sale. This has been a difficult issue for Morris Iemma. If he did not adopt Costa's policy, he risked internal Government ructions, but became beholden to Costa to keep him propped up. Having spruiked it, he could not then back down: he would be criticised for being "in the pockets of the unions", and weak. So he chose to be in Costa's pocket.

Morries Iemma has a dilemma! The Labor Party Conference has set a policy of not selling. If he backs down, be seen as weak, and the Opposition (remember them?) will drive home his weakness in and out of Parliament. If he proceeds with privatization against the Party Policy, he will risk both a public and Party backlash; possible expulsion; and exacerbate internal party divisions; and Opposition ridicule. Saving face will be almost impossible.

The actions of Morris Iemma, Michael Costa, and others, have been driven by politics, and power. The real, long-term interests of the people of NSW have not been a consideration.

Late Extra:
Premier Morris Iemma told media this afternoon:
"I'm advising that we are proceeding down the path ( to privatise NSW electricity assets, against Party Policy) that the Government had started"

PS I am not a member of any political party, nor have I ever been.