The Nile inquiry: government must always be accountable
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 04 February 2011

The essence of our constitutional system is that government is not absolute and must  always be accountable to Parliament and ultimately to the electorate.

Our Westminster system has been demonstrated to be among the best systems to ensure such accountability, together with both stability and flexibility.

We have long drawn attention in this column to the results which have been achieved in countries functioning under this system, and that it is the only system to be followed in other countries and which has then functioned successfully over time.



...people  better informed because of Nile inquiry...



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The Premier of New South Wales Ms Kristina Keneally’s  decision to recommend the early prorogation of Parliament has not stopped the formidable Rev. Fred Nile in continuing the Legislative Council inquiry into the sale of electricity assets which she condemned first as illegal, then unconstitutional.

The directors who resigned from the electricity companies rather than be involved in the sale remain entitled to give their evidence  without the threat of defamation proceedings, express or implied.  Lawyers are divided as to whether evidence given is protected from such action. There is a good argument that it is.

The point is that the government should ensure this is so. 

To say this is not for ACM to plunge into party politics. It is to argue for the maintenance of the proper standards of accountability which have hitherto applied in our system. 

The government’s actions have not allowed those standards to be applied. It is not too late even now for the government to act to ensure that the full details are known.




...the Chairman...




In any event, the inquiry chaired by the Rev. Fred Nile has revealed more information concerning the sale than was previously available and has provided a service to the state. 

The Rev Fred Nile is a model for all minor party and independent MP's. As a distinguished law professor says, he is remarkable in the way he keeps abreast of all issues. 

He follows a principled agenda, and never sells out to either of the major parties. When he swears the oath of allegiance it is not mechanistic tokenism; he is swearing an Oath before God. 

You can trust his word.


 

 ...obtaining evidence....





Premier Kristina Keneally and the Treasurer Eric Roozendaal have declined an invitation to re-appear before the inquiry into the power sell-off, according to the ABC (2/2). 

The committee's chairman, the Rev. Fred Nile, has indicated that the committee will sit in public on 10 February to examine the collapse of stage two of the electricity sale, notwithstanding that the  President of the Legislative Council has refused to seek a court order to compel the directors who resigned to attend.

And Ms Keneally has said that she and the Treasurer have already spent more than three hours answering the committee's questions and addressing its concerns and will not re-appear.





...collapse of second stage of sale...






The collapse of stage two came the planned sale failed to attract a bid by the deadline.One of the potential bidders, Energy Resource Managers Pty Ltd (ERMS), had put its offer on hold because of the "intense political debate and media coverage" surrounding the privatisation.

AAP reported that Mr. Nile told a media conference on 2 February: 

“If half of the gentrader (generation rights) is in government hands ... and the other half is privatised, how will this affect the whole situation?  I think it's left Macquarie Generation high and dry. And will it have an effect on their operations and their ability to compete in pricing and so on."

He acknowledged that the inquiry into the $5.3 billion first tranche of the sell-off might have directly impacted the second stage of the sale.

"I believe it has had some impact ... with the whole public scrutiny and controversy." 

The inquiry had revealed the "true facts" of the sale and the "hidden concessions" promised by the Government, he said.
  



 ...previous comments...

Queensland acts promptly on floods: Royal Commission  18 January 2011

The Formidable Fred Nile Prevails: Premier Concedes 7 January 2011

Prorogation: it won't stop the Rev Fred Nile  4 January 2011

Prorogue, then intimidate  30 December 2010