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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
NSW energy public assets: Rudd tries to 'assasinate' democracy in $25B sell off, union in 'hospital induced coma'?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: aust govt


Killing democracy in East Timor aka Timor Leste has been a deadly national 'sport' there since at least the invasion by Indonesia 30+ years ago, and by neglect of coloniser Portugal for probably a century or longer before that: 

Location of East Timor

 Ramos-Horta to make 'full recovery'8:49am | But East Timor President remains in coma and will undergo more surgery. | Democracy under the gunAnalysisStan GrantStrife aheadUN reaction

But when Australian PM Rudd correctly seeks to reinforce and consolidate a revived democracy in the face of assassination attempt(s) over there the complexity of this calculating man in relation to NSW democracy is brought into stark relief:

For it is a direct contradiction for PM Rudd to support sale of the huge ($25B) publicly owned natural monopoly on energy in NSW as he did yesterday/today in the 24 hour news cycle in a transparently set piece PR gambit, last shot in the locker for the yes case (as the whole plan was unravelling politically and conceptually over the last weekend): 

Rudd backs Iemma's power sell-off | The Australian 

Iemma welcomes Rudd sell-off support | Herald Sun 

Rudd backs NSW electricity privatisation - Breaking News ...

But will it be enough when it is opposed by 86% of the public in NSW? This is a stratopherically high number in such surveys even higher than Rudd's ascendant popularity figures, hence websites like this organised by Unions NSW:

Shock A Pollie

1. Get informed

Understand the dangers of privatising power by reading the materials on this site.

2. Get connected

Join our Stop the Sell-Off mailing list and email this site around to your friends and family.

3. Get Active

Use the 'Shock A Pollie' to send a direct message to the Premier that you do not support the power sell-off.

Take Action Now - Shock A Pollie!


This democratic opposition is "problemmatic" as per Rudd's press statement in the way the very principle of democracy is to East Timor hit men who put President Ramos Horta in a hospital induced coma. (May God and those good surgeons help him survive.)


The picture is becoming quite clear about PM Rudd as a real politik grifter. If it were just the unions with a limited representative base of 15-20% then no matter. But the survey unionist Thistlethwaite is brandishing speaks for pretty much everyone on this issue:

" DAMIEN O'CONNOR - NSW ALP LEFT FACTION: It is an issue about traditional Labor versus spiv Labor.
IAN MACDONALD - NSW ALP MLA: The Hogg/Egan proposition is a suicide note to the Australian Labor Party.
DR PETER BOTSMAN - UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY: If this goes ahead, it means privatisation of everything will be sanctioned. It means that every state Labor Party, every federal Labor Party across the country will embrace privatisation of essential services. "

in Proposed Privatisation of NSW Power Industry Ch9 Sunday 31 August 1997

Bob Carr was a very popular Premier having brooked no reversal for nearly  2 years since his election March 24 1995. Then he was slam dunked on public energy assets sale proposal in 1997. That's the real politik precedent for popular leaders like Rudd selling out the public interest to remain cosy with the big end of town. That's what the whole work choices industrial relations campaign was about - economic justice.

To be sure Rudd's stock of real politik capital is very high in this angel dust, honeymoon period not least clothed in the moral veil of the national apology tomorrow which the public and Big Media rightly support:


And therein is the logical strategy of getting Rudd's public endorsement for Iemma by the NSW ALP Right against democratic feeling on our public energy assets.

The public are surely right and Rudd is wrong. And even this early Rudd has very real credibility gaps on serious policy:

- as Noel Pearson points out today in a moving feature about views from the crest of a giant sand dune, how sincere can it be to rule out compensation from a $30B surplus and unequivocally support a national apology?

 - NOEL PEARSON: When words aren't enough

 It doesn't quite gel, and indeed it isn't right as Michael Mansell, Bob Brown and many others correctly note. It's grasping PR on the apology without addressing an important policy implication. The failure to even read an embargoed advisory text to Opposition leader Nelson underlines the grasping Rudd ALP posturing. On this Nelson has a point and Kudelka reflects this in his insightful cartoon today, main page The Australian:

- The 2020 Summit of Rudd is widely seen "as a joke" to quote The Daily Telegraph online headline

 Rudd's summit fast becoming a joke | The Daily Telegraph 11 Feb 2008

, which diverges greatly from the print headline by the by ("Hardly a guest list to inspire the nation"). And there are many more threads to that thick rope of scepticism in the Big Media this last 5 days from Clarke & Dawe, Andrew Bolt, Barry Cassidy, Kerry OBrien etc.

- The there is the doozy of them all: Dangerous Climate Change. Signing an exhausted almost redundant Kyoto is nice symbolism but junking medium term strict reduction targets as Ross Garnaut, as Rudd's man has been talking up, is indeed a joke: Crikey - Garnaut loses the plot - Garnaut loses the plot by Clive Hamilton 29 Jan 2008

 Will Rudd go the growth fetish as implied by the expanded energy/immigration/dinosaur growth economics that got us in the cross hairs of dangerous climate change? You bet. This is what he means by "fully support" Iemma's asset sales - to build a $5B truck tunnel to a Bay dredged, expanded Port Botany whose biggest export is empty containers on very climate unfriendly foreign multinational owned jumbo ships with hugely greenhouse embedded retail junk. In other words Rudd's commitment to real climate change discipline is a bald and exposed as his Minister Peter Garrett's scalp. It's a carpet baggers' sincerity.

- And here is more reality check on climate change funding: Of $643M in budget cuts notice Glenn Milne in Hello, budget pain | The Australian 11th Feb 2008 

Trouble was, back at the National Press Club, Tanner was mounting the inflation case for cutting precisely the programs Wong was promoting in Melbourne. Immediately after his speech, the Finance Minister issued a statement detailing an immediate $643 million in spending cuts as a down payment on the promised rigours of the May budget.

The line items appeared obscure. But closer examination revealed that at least three measures - the defunding of the Asia Pacific Network for Energy Technology and the Low Emissions Technology and Abatement program, and the reduction in money for the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program - were going to contribute $49.2 million to Tanner's budget bottom line. And then there was the $3 million knife taken to the funding for the CSIRO research vessel Southern Surveyor. ..... [bold added]

In other words, the Southern Surveyor is an example of just the sort of "scientists, engineers and (research) capacity" Wong lauded in her Melbourne speech as being essential to the frontline battle against the effects of climate change.

This column brought these anomalies to the attention of Wong's office. In mitigation they say the Low Emissions Technology and Abatement money had not yet been committed and the Asia Pacific Network for Energy Technology constitutes an overlap with existing research and development programs.

These details aside, the fact remains that the Tanner-Wong episode is an important symbol of an inevitable transitional phase for the new Labor Government. And the transition is from the high-minded rhetoric of election promises and goals on issues such as climate change to the realities of government, dirtied by the hard stuff of inflation and interest rates.

 - And this credibility gap today:

Lobbyists still roaming unchecked | The Australian 11 Feb 2008

MINISTERIAL meetings with lobbyists are still going unrecorded, with the federal Government's register of lobbyists not yet in place despite plans to have it up and running before parliament opens this week.

Nine weeks after Kevin Rudd released his long-awaited code of conduct for ministers, the Government has no way of implementing its ban on contacts with lobbyists not on the public register.

A spokesman for Special Minister of State John Faulkner confirmed the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had not finalised the register but said it expected to put it on its website once complete.

"It's still under construction and it will be available as soon as it's humanly possible," the spokesman said.

More than 600 lobbyists currently have unsupervised access to Parliament House via a special pass system, with non-profit groups, industry associations and commercial lobbying firms all beating paths to new ministers' doors since the election.

Concerns about the role of lobbyists have been heightened in recent years by the controversy surrounding former WA premier and lobbyist Brian Burke.

Rudd is a rich man who only believes in open slather economic growth of a materialist kind to appease institutional economic forces and promote his own political career. On some of these issues like the apology it happily coincides with public interest, on others like the public's hard earned and profitable energy assets it almost certainly does not:

Why do the public oppose the sale anyway?: Multinationals will exercise capitalist creative destruction on the sector in their pathological pursuit of profit as per doco The Corporation.


This is systemic, it's not 'a few bad apples', it's the main game, the modus operandi:

That is well understood. The unions have lots to fear from that private equity foreign, multinational barbaric corporate tradition of

  • cut costs,
  • slash workforce,
  • increase prices,
  • draw down huge dividends to reward investor shareholders in the takeover.

It's transparently the method.

But corporations are an invention of society's legal system. And society should decide what corporations can and can't do with natural monopolies on questions of economic and environmental justice, so embarrassingly illustrated by the Yes Men here:


Otherwise it's just a sell out of democracy to corporate capitalism. An accessory to assasination. In East Timor its bullets, in Australia words are bullets.

The unions/workers' basis of concern to save their jobs and their very lives is therefore clear. But what of the environmnet? If prices go up surely that will reduce greenhouse emissions with reduced use, even at the expense of cold poor people in winter, for the greater good and all that?

But that's not how corporations work. They will maximise production and sales to increase income. They will price the poor out of their energy and sell at comparative volume based discounts to their mates in Big Business making profitable widgets of any description to maximise their own sales. Energy use will massively increase. Highly mechanised operations will make labour insecure and workplaces fatigue ridden high risk and fatal worksites. Unions will be banished. One can hear Big Business revving already:

Greiner backs power sell-off | The Australian 11 Feb 08

The King Penugiuns of the Sub Antarctic will be extinct anytime soon

King penguins in peril as planet warms | NEWS.com.au 12 Feb 2008

as most every government pays lip service to dangerous climate change yet sleep walks on as per capitalist tradition,  as will be extinct alot of pensioners and poor people prone to every latest bug going around in their cold run down residence. Not the rich pollies with their corporate donations. The poor people.

The alternative to really addressing dangerous climate change is to reduce reuse refuse recycle on a huge scale and conserve energy supply. And subsidise new clean forms from the public sector in terms of labour expertise and know how. For that we need a union movement's social capital. We don't need PM Rudd's sophistry.

But Rudd will smile angelically as he did with Laurie Oakes last Sunday on 9  in a sunny glow and cut the ribbon of the $5B truck tunnel

 $5b secret road under Sydney | The Daily Telegraph 1st March 2007

 and any other PR opportunity and democracy will have been betrayed.


Postscript #1 13th Feb 2008

Richard Farmer of Crikey.com.au writes today of yet more credibility gap for angelic PM Rudd:

The Headline seeker. Kevin Rudd is a skilled man in the search for a headline and the 10 second television news grab. On 18 November he promised that Parliament would meet before Christmas. The impression of a new Prime Minister keen to get on with the job was well received. Parliament met for the first time yesterday. On 29 November he promised that there would be no holidays for his new ministry but for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Once again, the image of a team keen to get on with the job. In truth the government went into the normal Christmas holiday hibernation with Mr Rudd at the cricket and his deputy Julia Gillard acting as boss. And yesterday we saw the extent of another Labor promise – the promise that Parliament under Labor would sit for five days in a week not the four or even three that marked the Howard years. When the Leader of the House Anthony Albanese unveiled changes to the standing orders setting out the rules for this new "full-time" parliamentary week it became clear that the extra sitting day on a Friday would be nothing more than a Clayton's sitting day. There will be no question time, no votes and no quorums; what Parliament will have is a talk fest day where members can be present if they want to get something on the record while having no real need to be present at all.

And Simon Benson of the Daily Telegraph takes the 'way it is' line with this apathetic piece about crude ALP power politics aka 'spiv ALP':

Simon Benson: Labor pulls plug on unions

Postscript #2 15th Feb 2008

Other press updates on this hard fought debate at the highest levels of politics in NSW and Australia that we have noticed:

- Costa confirms talks on new power station - National - smh.com.au 13th Feb 2008

- Bulldoze old power stations, says adviser - Environment - smh.com.au 14th Feb 2008

- Shipping emissions twice level of airlines SMH Feb 14 2008

- from back in 2007 the hugely greenhouse embedded super container ships First China-made 8530-TEU container ship delivered

Posted by editor at 9:22 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008 5:58 AM EADT

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