11 November 2020

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL (Coogee) (17:24:12): I support this very important public interest debate on the motion moved by the member for Lakemba and oppose the amendment of the member for Ku-ring-gai. I start by recapping a number of the $60 billion worth of assets that this Government has sold off since it came to power in 2011. In 2012 it sold off and privatised the Sydney Desalination Plant. It privatised an essential resource that people need in order to live their lives.

Mr Mark Coure: You sold off Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank—

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL: You sold off water!

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Clerk will stop the clock. I ask the member for Lakemba whether he wants his motion debated. He will cease interjecting. The member for Ku-ring-gai will come to order. I call the member for Oatley to order for the first time. I call the member for Oatley to order for the second time. The member for Coogee will be heard in silence. The member has the call.

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL: In 2012 the Government sold off the desalination plant, privatising water—an essential resource that people need to consume in order to live their lives. I think that is probably one of the single most unethical and immoral things a government can do; the Government puts Coca‑Cola to shame. In 2013 it sold off Port Botany and Port Kembla. In 2014 it sold off the Port of Newcastle. These were revenue‑making assets that fed billions of dollars into the coffers of New South Wales.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I call the member for Ku-ring-gai to order for the first time.

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL: I do not know which low-altitude flyer thought that was a great idea, but if it were my horse I would put it out to pasture. In 2017 the Government then went and sold off the Land Titles Office—again, another great revenue-making asset. Government members claim to be these great economic managers, but assets such as these continue to be sold off time and time again. The Premier went to the last election with a clear pledge, which she made on 20 March 2019, that there would be no further privatisations. She made that commitment. We now know that it was an outright lie to the people of New South Wales. Only a couple of months later the Premier declared that the last remaining public buses in Sydney would be sold off, including those in the eastern suburbs. What was even more abhorrent was that when Opposition members called her out about it in this Chamber on 24 October 2019 her response was, "Wakey‑wakey, New South Wales! We've been doing it for eight years!" What kind of person does that?

Government members think they can say one thing and do the complete opposite. Their views about the people of New South Wales are absolutely abhorrent. But we know there is absolutely more privatisation to come. The thing is, though, that the people of New South Wales will oppose it and I will oppose it every single time. Every single time those opposite privatise public assets, profits come before people and the interests of shareholders trump those of citizens. That is actually embedded in the corporations Act, as Government members would know. We know that there is more to come, and we know that the trains are next. In 2018 the transport Minister and Transport for NSW declared that they were already working to separate the running of the T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line.

Mr Mark Coure: That's not going to happen!

Mr Gareth Ward: What, like Victoria?

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL: It is here in an article, mate; you are going to be doing it. The member for Oatley says it is not going to happen. You say one thing and you do another. There you go: You have sold off all the buses and we know that the trains are next.

Ms Anna Watson: What about the schools? The schools will be next.

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL: Absolutely. We will explore that later. This Government does not understand that in order for its neoliberal agenda to work it requires competition—real competition—and one of the best competitors to have is actually government and public interest.

Mr Alister Henskens: Really?


The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Ku-ring-gai will come to order. The member for Coogee will direct her comments through the Chair.

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL: All members in this place have one fundamental job: to improve the lives of people in this State. The Government is definitely not doing that. It is the most horrendous economic manager, to say the least. I appreciate that the Treasurer's background is as a commercial lawyer. If he wants a couple of educational lessons from people who have economics and finance backgrounds there are plenty of members on this side of the Chamber who want to give them. The short-sighted ideological views of Government members have resulted in public education being gutted and our health care being gutted. Their selling off of essential public services puts corporate interests ahead of those of the people whom they claim to represent. Time and time again the people of this State continue to say that they want this Government's hands off public assets that belong to them. More than 60,000 people signed petitions stating that they do not want their bus services privatised and we continue to collect signatures day in and day out. I say this to the Government: Get your hands off public assets that belong to the people of this State and get some lessons in economics.