Business of the House

About this Item
SpeakersStoner Mr Andrew; Speaker; Aquilina Mr John
BusinessBusiness of the House, Division

Page: 7151

Reordering of General Business

Mr ANDREW STONER (Oxley—Leader of The Nationals) [3.35 p.m.]: I move:

      That the General Business Notice of Motion (General Notice) given by me this day [Electricity Privatisation] have precedence on Thursday 8 May 2008.

I seek precedence for this notice of motion because the Premier would like us to believe that in ignoring 800 Labor Party delegates at a party conference he has shown leadership when nothing could be further from the truth. True leadership would have meant taking this issue, his true privatisation plan, to seven million people in New South Wales before last year's State election. The Premier must be reflecting on those famous words by Walter Scott:
Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!

I seek precedence for this debate—

Mr Andrew Fraser: This is not the first time.

Mr ANDREW STONER: No, it is not the first time. I seek precedence for this debate because this Premier has failed to answer one very basic question about his proposed electricity sell-off. How did it escape attention before the budget? Do members remember the State infrastructure strategy? It was not mentioned. There is no mention of the power sell-off in the State Plan let alone the 2007-08 budget. The Premier spent millions of taxpayers' dollars promoting those documents—the so-called State Plan and other documents—but he left out the basic detail. He now has the gall to claim a mandate in relation to power privatisation. I refer, again, to those fateful words:
Oh what a tangled web we weave
When on many occasions we practice to deceive!

Yesterday the Premier attacked the Opposition for wanting the details of his privatisation plan. It would be irresponsible and a breach of our duty of care to the public if we were not to obtain full details of what, after all, is a complex and major privatisation plan. But there are no details. The Premier was asked again for more details and he failed to give those details to the public, let alone to the Opposition. One day he talks about complete privatisation and the next day he talks about a public-private partnership. On which model does he want us to take a position? He keeps moving the goalposts. It is as though the Government is making it up as it is going along.

We must debate this issue especially given this Government's track record on its appalling deals with business, including the Cross City Tunnel, the Tcard and the desalination plant debacle. This proposed privatisation has been a circus from day one for one simple reason: the Premier is completely out of his depth. A man with very limited life experience, no business experience and no management experience is trying to manage a multi-billion dollar—

Ms Virginia Judge: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance under Standing Order 76. The member should restrict his comments to the point that he is debating, if that is possible.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of The Nationals will confine his remarks to the leave of the motion.

Mr ANDREW STONER: It is important that we debate this matter as soon as possible. This Government has botched everything else it has touched in its dealings with business, but as yet we have not seen a deal of this magnitude. Members of the public want this issue to be debated. The Labor Party has resorted to its old modus operandi of sorting things out in the backroom with its Labor and union mates. Today the Premier admitted that these discussions were taking place behind closed doors with the Australian Labor Party campaign committee. Who is running this State? When did the public get a look in, or is it just Karl Bitar, Luke Foley and a few Australian Labor Party officials? That sort of behaviour might have taken place in Communist Russia but not in New South Wales.

Today when members of the Opposition asked a pertinent question and someone interjected and asked, "How much are the unions getting?", the Minister for Small Business, the Hon. Joe Tripodi, stated in this place—it was witnessed by a number of members—"The more the better." That is what is taking place, which is why this issue must be debated. This matter deserves to be debated because country and coastal communities have serious concerns about the impact of this half-baked and moving feast of a privatisation plan on jobs, electricity prices and service levels, especially when the Premier admitted again today that no rural community impact statement had been undertaken. I urge members to debate this issue tomorrow. [Time expired.]

Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Leader of the House) [3.40 p.m.]: Today the Leader of The Nationals asked the rhetorical question, "Who is ruling this State?" Thank God that Opposition members are not ruling this State because they have no policies and no idea. Time and again Opposition members criticise and condemn. They are always quick to do that but they never have any positive ideas or policies with which to run this State. It should not be forgotten that Opposition members had the hide to criticise the Premier today about what happened before the last election. What did they do before the last election when they were resoundingly defeated?

Where was their water policy during the extreme drought? They did not have one. Where was their electricity policy when they criticised the Government leading up to the election? They did not have a policy. Where was their transport policy? They did not have one. Where was their budget policy? Again, they did not have one. It is no wonder they were defeated: they went to an election without any policies. Now they have the hide to criticise the Government over a process that has probably been the most open policy debate in the history of this State. The only thing missing is that the Opposition has not raised its hand in this debate. It has been nowhere for the past six months while the Labor Party has openly debated the electricity issue. The debate has been open and very public and everyone has had the opportunity to contribute.

The Leader of The Nationals has the hide to talk about backroom deals. As the member for Monaro pointed out, last weekend 800 delegates attended the Labor Party conference and the whole world was able to witness the Labor Party's proceedings. In fact, yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald succinctly put it when it said the Opposition has been nowhere in deciding government issues in this State. This debate within the Labor Party put forward the pros and cons. It is an open process in which arguments for and against have been debated and continue to be debated openly, but the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition are absolutely nowhere in this debate. The Opposition has no right whatsoever to criticise and condemn the Government.

The Premier was asked as recently as this afternoon to provide details, and he gave a detailed answer to that question. He indicated that in the meeting this morning he met with members of the Australian Labor Party campaign committee. The Premier indicated that at that meeting the finer details of the Government's energy reform plan were not discussed. He said that as recently as this afternoon. The Premier has been open about all of this. The Premier has been out there publicly canvassing the matter with the media. The Premier has been out there discussing the issue with the major powerbrokers. The Premier has been out there talking with the unions and with the workers. The issue has been discussed within the Parliament. In fact, the Premier has been out there openly discussing and debating this matter.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murray-Darling will resume his seat.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA: The only people who have not been involved with this at all, the only people who have not added one single comment on this whole issue other than to criticise have been Opposition members. Where are their policies and plans? Where is their input regarding the governing of this State?

Ms Virginia Judge: Zero.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA: Absolute zero, as the member for Strathfield says, and that zero indicates the Opposition's total irrelevance to the whole issue of the governance of this State. That is what this motion is all about: wasting the time of this House because Opposition members have nothing positive to offer. They have nothing positive to put forward. All they do is carp, criticise and condemn. That is all they are capable of and that is all they ever do. They never have anything positive to say or to put forward.

Mr Brad Hazzard: Point of order. The member for Riverstone suddenly drew my attention to the word "irrelevance", which reminded me of Standing Order 59: "The Speaker may direct a Member to discontinue a speech if the Member persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition." The member for Riverstone has been saying the same thing for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Can you please move onto something new, John, or just go away?

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Wakehurst will resume his seat.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA: It is not a question of tedious repetition. It is an issue of the Opposition's continuing irrelevance. [Time expired]

Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 38
Mr Aplin
Mr Baird
Mr Baumann
Ms Berejiklian
Mr Cansdell
Mr Constance
Mr Debnam
Mr Draper
Mrs Fardell
Mr Fraser
Ms Goward
Mrs Hancock
Mr Hartcher
Mr Hazzard
Ms Hodgkinson
Mr Humphries
Mr Kerr
Mr Merton
Mr Oakeshott
Mr O'Dea
Mr O'Farrell
Mr Page
Mr Piccoli
Mr Piper
Mr Provest
Mr Richardson
Mr Roberts
Mrs Skinner
Mr Smith
Mr Souris
Mr Stokes
Mr Stoner
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner
Mr J. D. Williams
Mr R. C. Williams
Mr George
Mr Maguire

Noes, 49
Mr Amery
Ms Andrews
Mr Aquilina
Ms Beamer
Mr Borger
Mr Brown
Ms Burney
Ms Burton
Mr Campbell
Mr Collier
Mr Coombs
Mr Corrigan
Mr Costa
Mr Daley
Ms D'Amore
Ms Firth
Ms Gadiel
Mr Greene
Mr Harris
Ms Hay
Mr Hickey
Ms Hornery
Ms Judge
Ms Keneally
Mr Khoshaba
Mr Koperberg
Mr Lynch
Mr McBride
Dr McDonald
Ms McKay
Mr McLeay
Ms McMahon
Ms Meagher
Ms Megarrity
Mr Morris
Mrs Paluzzano
Mr Pearce
Mrs Perry
Mr Rees
Mr Sartor
Mr Shearan
Mr Stewart
Ms Tebbutt
Mr Terenzini
Mr Tripodi
Mr West
Mr Whan

Mr Ashton
Mr Martin


Mrs HopwoodMr Gibson
Question resolved in the negative.

Motion negatived.