Friday, August 08, 2008

Iemma's Privatization Fuse

The NSW ALP Administrative Committee, its most powerful body, today met with NSW Premier, Morris Iemma. He had previoously refused to attend to dicuss the issue of his, and Treasurer Michale Costa's, plan to privatize NSW's electricity assets. The upshot is an uneasy "truce" that gives Morris Iemma a back door exit: he did say that he was "still willing to negotiate" (on privatization).

He will be acutely aware that he needs to stay as Premier for another 12 months before he can access "long-term Premier" benefits in retirement. Michael Costa, his staunch ally in privatization, is also looking at his retirement. They alone told Caucus what it would think, raising the stakes, and the hackles of NSW ALP government members, members of the ALP, Unions, and the public. Perhaps the 'negotiations' will last that 12 months, whereupon Mr Iemma might retire from politics, take his added benefits; which include car, driver, and office; and pass the poisoned chalice of privatization to someone else, to be quickly dropped as a change in policy by the new leader.

Given the unpopularity of the proposed electricity privatization, many in NSW, unionists and others, would be pleased.