NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa.
NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa. www.parliament.nsw.gov.au

Costa must go

NSW Treasurer Michael Costa should stand down over his plan to privatise the State electricity system, according to a local delegate at the State ALP conference.

Isaac Smith was angry after attending the conference in Sydney on the weekend where 702 delegates voted against a plan to lease power stations and sell off retailers Energy Australia, Integral Energy and Country Energy.
Only 107 delegates voted in favour of the proposal. If the parliamentary party goes ahead with the plan it will be the first time it has gone against the wishes of a State conference, where party policy is supposed to be determined.

Mr Smith, a delegate for the Federal electorate of Page, made the comments when he was discussing Premier Morris Iemma's delicate political situation.

"If he doesn't listen to his party then he doesn't deserve to be leader," Mr Smith said.

"He's in dangerous territory but this is an opportunity to step up and show some improved leadership. I believe he should ask Costa to stand down."

Treasurer Michael Costa is the driving force behind the privatisation plan and Mr Smith said the blame for the situation the ALP finds itself in over this issue can be 'laid at the feet' of Mr Costa who has not been prepared to negotiate.
"I was there representing people from the Northern Rivers and we don't want electricity privatised," Mr Smith said.

"I don't believe there's enough information about how to do it, and from my own research about privatisation in other countries I'm not convinced it benefits consumers and the public."

He agreed Morris Iemma was in a difficult situation politically, either having to back down to the union-dominated party conference or back down on the electricity privatisation plan.

Sue Dakin was a former ALP candidate for the seat of Page at the 1999 and 2003 State elections and is a former president of the Federal electorate council for Page.
However she resigned from the Labor Party in January because she felt rank and file branch members were not being listened to.

"The only thing I've got is my integrity and I'm not going to let a party destroy that," she said.

Ms Dakin said the fallout from the State conference would have a "serious impact" on the party's ability to attract new members in the future.

She mentioned the State Government's backdown on the Alstonville bypass and ignoring a unanimous vote by the Country Labor conference to reinstate the Casino to Murwillumbah railway service as other examples of the party ignoring the wishes of members.

"This has been coming for a while," she said. "Politicians like to be thought of as honest and reliable, but they have shown time and time again that they don't listen."

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