Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Selling the farm?

Premier Dilemma's plan to sell-off NSW's electricity assets to help fund badly-needed infrastructure has a sense of deja-vu for me.

Back in the late 90s, South Australia's then Liberal government sold off the Electricity Trust of South Australia for around $8 billion, to shore up some funds SA desperately needed after the previous Bannon/Arnold Labor governments help put the state into chronic recession via the State Bank debacle. At the time, the move was very strongly resisted and only became a reality when two Labor MPs, Terry Cameron and Trevor Crothers, crossed the floor to vote with the government on its sale. (Both were of course immediately disendorsed by the party and went on to have fairly lacklustre careers as independents.)

Cries of the sky falling in at the time ultimately proved to be somewhat overreactionary. The government retained ownership of the generation, transmission and distribution assets, which I understand would happen here in NSW too under the proposed plan, and today SA is doing pretty well, or at least a lot better than people imagined it would be 10 years ago. Electricity prices went up dramatically in 2003 when the market was deregulated but as more retailers have come into play prices have since fallen.

Higher power prices are going to be a reality over the coming decades anyway as a consequence of necessary climate change policy, so I think it's something we should all become resolved to. And frankly, any initiative that takes away management of something from the Iemma government is probably a good move by definition!

I certainly believe Sydney having an integrated metro system is long overdue and it would need funding of this scale to be achieved. There are still big chunks of the city - parts of the north shore, the northern beaches, parts of the inner west and of course the rapidly expanding north-western sprawl - lacking proper public transport infrastructure, and any system which in theory encourages people out of their cars and back onto the trains could only be beneficial to the city in the long term. If the government isn't interested in light rail, which it's made abundantly clear, then a metro system is a reasonable contingency.

However, given this government's history managing our public transport - and a big hi to all you bus riders out there still sitting on your morning bus waiting to get to work - I'm not sure how comfortable I am about entrusting a whole new system to them. Remember how the Chatswood-Epping rail link was originally meant to be Chatswood-Parramatta? And what's the deal with the Airport line trains always being half empty because the fare is much higher than an equivalent distance ticket?

I just hope this doesn't become another plan that ends up gathering dust at the bottom of Premier Dilemma's Big Ticket pile.

Labels: , ,


At 12/12/07 4:18 pm, Anonymous Sjusju said...

Hi Sam,

Thought you would love this bit of mastery from Sam & Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne... How to annoy the fundamentalists by using their own webpage to send emails to politicians supporting the ACT Civil Unions bill:

The Australian Christian Lobby has started an email campaign called Man+Wife4Life which encourages Christians to send emails to their pollies opposing the ACT Civil Union/Partnership Bill. Here's the webpage:

They've done a great job of uploading all the postcodes/pollies in Australia so that all you have to do is type in your p/code and it automatically comes up with the contact emails for you. You then type in your message and, "bingo" it shoots off to the appropriate representative.

I thought it would be a shame to waste such excellent work, so I have used their very clever form to send off emails of SUPPORT for the ACT Bill.

From here:

At 17/12/07 10:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam. Are you really a Burnside child?

At 18/12/07 8:45 am, Blogger Sam said...

Burnside region, yes.


Post a Comment

<< Home