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Reverend Fred Nile vote crucial to plans

Saturday, 18th April, 2015

By Darrin Manuel

The fate of the proposed pipeline from Broken Hill to the Murray River could be in the hands of Reverend Fred Nile.

Electoral officials have formally declared the 21 NSW upper house members from last month’s election, with the veteran MP set to hold the balance of power.

His vote will be crucial to the re-elected Baird coalition government’s poles and wires partial privatisation plan, the spoils of which are earmarked to fund the city’s pipeline.

Rev Nile’s position on the power privatisation has so far proven somewhat tricky to ascertain.

He has said he would only support the move if the government guaranteed that no worker would be worse off, and energy bills would not increase.

However he has also said he would not support the move if it put the State’s electricity into the hands of the Chinese, and even called for ASIO to assess any deals with Chinese companies.

Most recently he has said he would call for a parliamentary inquiry into the proposed leasing of poles and wires.

He stated the inquiry would provide un-biased, independent facts on the proposal.

“It’ll be very beneficial for the people of this state to have all the facts laid on the table under oath - not rhetoric, not slogans, but facts,” he told reporters yesterday.

Not everyone is convinced by the Reverend’s show of impartiality however, with Greens NSW MP John Kaye questioning whether the inquiry is in fact the result of a “behind-closed-door deal” between Rev Nile and the Premier.

Mr Kaye, who has previously described Rev Nile as a government “patsy”, said the inquiry would be stacked to silence opposition to the privatisation, and would consequently stifle renewable energy.

“Mr Nile continues his strong track record of rolling over to the government on every critical issue,” said Mr Kaye.

“This is a stitch up job, clearly written in collaboration with the Baird government.

“This inquiry will comprehensively ignore the impacts of electricity privatisation on the future of renewable energy.

“There will be no space for roof-top solar, wind or solar thermal. There will be no voice for technologies of the future that stand to lose badly in a privately-owned electricity network.

“The Coalition and Christian Democrat majority will ensure that the dire implications of network privatisation for low income households will be given little or no consideration.

“Contrary to what Rev Nile told the media prior to the election, this inquiry has a pro-privatisation majority.

“The hard questions will not be asked and the most severe critics will not be given a hearing.”

-BDT/AAP

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