The passage of a bill clearing the way for the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) to hand over 49 percent of its electricity network to private leaseholders was a cause of relief and celebration for the governing Liberals.
“I am delighted…this ends decades of policy dithering,” state governor Mike Baird jubilantly declared after the vote.
However, the controversial proposed sale of the 99-year leases certainly did not attract universal support, squeaking through by a margin of 19 votes to 17 with the Labor, Green and Shooters and Fishers parties all expressing their opposition.
Indeed, the vote ended up hinging on the support of Reverend Fred Nile, who chaired a parliamentary inquiry into the merits of the plan. He concluded that it would not raise power bills for consumers and would be in the best interests of the state.
However, Nile was not an unqualified supporter of the bill – he called for stronger protections for electricity workers and questioned government claims that a $300 billion economic uplift would result from the initiative.
There was another individual present as the vote outcome was announced who also could not be described as an unqualified supporter. He was heard to yell “Bugger!” at the top of his voice in response. It is not known whether anyone reached over to cover the ears of the 80-year-old Reverend, a noted theologian and ordained Christian minister.