Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION, April 21, 2017

IT WOULD be difficult in recent times to find a more substantial, critical and accurate assessment about the folly of political privatisation, especially that engineered by the Coalition, than The DA's editorial, "Registry sell-off gambling with the state's future". It referred to the Berejiklian Government's decision to lease the 150-year-old land titles registry office to a private consortium for $2.6 billion which, the editorial suggested, "must rank as a new low watermark"; further, the fact of privatising a monopoly service that played such a central role in recording the sale of land in NSW was simply unconscionable". Spot on!

The worst part about the whole episode was the Coalition's ignorance and lack of concern to opponents of the decision such as the Law Society, Institution of Surveyors (IofS) and Real Estate Institute; indeed, the latter rejected suggestions by the out-of-touch new premier, who claimed "their concerns had been laid to rest" and the IofS which said it had never been consulted.

Where was the State Opposition while all this was going on; why, also, were Sydney's high-profile media commentators silent for so long? There is a stench about this act of privatisation that should send a clear message, if another was needed, about the incompetency of the major parties and their contempt for our real needs.

Further, it raises yet again, the question of trusting politicians. Allen Clark, SMH, asked: "Can anyone point to an instance of a privatised public utility which has delivered better outcomes to consumers?"

"There is scant evidence that the private sector can run, for example, water storage and reticulation, or electricity, or public transport more cheaply than the public sector. It's all about privatising profits ... let's just stop doing it."

It's a fair statement; further, how much taxpayer funding was either wasted or ended up in the pockets of fly-by-nighters operating privatisation schemes like the dodgy vocational education "program"?

Beware the coming federal budget. Will real issues - such as power costs and regional development - be justly tackled or will we be misled by the current pre-budget nonsense about housing affordability policies?

Still the Greens, environmentalists and social media groups bang on about the Adani-Point Abott coal mine project, particularly its alleged effects on the Barrier Reef. Last week media outlets published stories and photographs suggesting the recent cyclone had blown coal dust onto nearby beaches making them black along with "lumps of coal" from the nearby Adani mine.

The "coal dust" was black magnetite mineral sand which is found right along the North Queensland coast and the "coal lumps" were actually small rocks, all dredged up by one of the most powerful cyclones ever to hit northern Australia.

The column reiterates; environmental protection must be practiced by governments but not at the exclusivity of development, especially that of enhancing regional Australia's mining and water conservation potential.

Governments certainly must ensure developers get no favours or short cuts; and on that score, there are some issues with Adani, especially how water is supplied to the mine. Australians would expect nothing less but minerals, after all, are the property and revenue of all Australians and a path to our future prosperity. Environmentalists, as we would expect, should maintain their vigilance but need to consider their prejudices are balanced with the nation's affluence.



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