Riordan and Labor Update
Transcript of interview today at 7:10am 2UE. Bob Carr with John Stanley and Sandy Aloisi.
JS: So you think Kristina Keneally is within her rights to call for BR’s sacking?
BC: Yeah, moreover I think there’s only one way out of it – and that’s for Bernie, who I respect, who I’ve always had a cordial relationship with, to give it away. I don’t think he could be president … The Liberal party would be in the same position, to be president of a party and to suggest that people to vote for a party other than yours.
JS: And yet you’ve also documented his role in scuttling electricity privatisation that made it very difficult for your government – the $30 billion you would have got – and then subsequently brought Morris Iemma down.
BC: Yeah, absolutely. In 1997 I proposed it. I was blocked at my party’s conference. I have to say that public opinion was also against me but I argued as strongly as I could in 1997 that we’ve got assets tied up in owning power stations that could be better employed in roads, hospitals, schools and public transport. Bernie Riordan was really responsible for that being blocked at that 1997 State ALP Conference. It would have been worth about $30 – 35 billion to the public sector – that would have been money to have been spent by the government on behalf of the taxpayers of NSW. Instead it continued to be sunk in ownership of power stations. They’ve depreciated in value, so that today the sale of those assets would reap the taxpayers a derisory $5 billion. Could have got us, as I said, up to $35 billion in 1997 dollars.
JS: I want to get onto that in a moment because I think that’s really important when you think of what could have been bought. But from Bernie Riordan’s point of view, he would remain affiliated with the ALP but he should step down as Labor party president…
BC: You can’t be the leader of the non-parliamentary party, which is what he is as party president, and run an editorial in a union journal saying my union’s going to be encouraged to think about supporting Coalition candidates as well as Labor party candidates. You just can’t do it! I think any Labor party rank and file who are considering throwing some support behind the coalition would be bounced out of the party and I think the same test has got to apply to a union secretary here…
SA: What will this mean for the relationship between the ALP and the unions? Will it drive a wedge between them?
BC: No it won’t, because there’d be a lot of union secretaries who think that Bernie has gone too far this time. He did not have the support of his colleagues in the trade union movement on this one. They want to see a Labor government returned. They know what will happen to working conditions, they know what would happen to jobs in the public sector, because they can recall what happened the last time around under the coalition government. To take one statistic I used in a speech last night, at the end of seven years of coalition government in NSW there were fewer ambulance drivers employed than there had been when Nick Greiner had been elected in 1988. The unions know that will happen again in NSW public sector if there is a change in government. It’s what always happens when you get a coalition government in power at a state level.
(Originally pubilshed on 29th November 2010)