Baird and Fred Nile "working together" on privatisation
BREAKING: Premier Mike Baird has met with Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile to discuss "working together" to pass the energy privatisation plans through the NSW upper house.
The Christian Democratic Party is almost certain to have the balance of power in the Legislative Council, meaning the Coalition must work with Rev. Nile if it wants to get the scheme through.
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But the elder statesman of NSW politics has a few policies of his own, and said he would demand a fair hearing from the government.
Mr Baird called Rev. Nile on Monday night to request a meeting at the Premier's office in Martin Place yesterday afternoon.
"I had a very good conversation with him about how we're going to work together, now that I have got the balance of power," Rev. Nile said.
Mr Baird was given a list of Christian Democratic Party bills that will be tabled during the first sitting of parliament in May, to "see where he had some sympathy with them".
"I didn't really give him a choice. I said I'm going to do it the day I report to parliament," Rev. Nile said.
"He said that's okay, we can co-operate."
About one-quarter of the upper house votes remain to be counted, but it is highly unlikely Rev. Nile's position in parliament will change.
Some, if not all, of his bills will be controversial, including a plan to ban all alcohol advertising and to raise the legal drinking age limit from 18 to 21.
But, as he explained it, "they need our votes to pass their legislation".
"The first (bill), banning alcohol advertising, will start World War Three with the liquor industry," Rev. Nile said.
"It is certainly a very powerful group that makes a lot of donations to both sides of politics."
It might sound like an unachievable goal, but Rev. Nile has had success with a similar bill banning tobacco advertising.
The Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act was enacted Australia-wide in 1992 despite fierce opposition from the smoking industry.
The bill started its life in NSW.
"I had senior people at The Herald saying they weren't happy, because I was costing $200 million in advertising each year," Rev. Nile said.
"Banning smoking in public places and smoking in cars with children were also my bills.
"Often a bill gets passed and they say it was the government who passed it, so I don't get the credit.
"But I know I've had the greatest impact of any member of parliament on the tobacco industry, and saved thousands of people's lives."
Rev. Nile acknowledged he had a fight on his hands to raise the drinking age.
"The liquor industry will go beserk, as did the tobacco industry," he said.
"It won't be easy. I know one Labor health minister, when they were in government, told me he agreed with me.
"But he said he was not prepared to fight the liquor industry because they were too powerful - they have enough muscle to affect who can win elections.
"That's why we have to have a bipartisan approach."
The CDP will table 25 bills when parliament returns on May 5.
They include legislation to ban the burqa in public, outlawing any publications promoting terrorism and prohibiting the "halal certification tax" on foods.
Rev. Nile will also introduce a bill calling for a public register of convicted pedophiles at local police stations, so parents can contact police if they want to find out if their neighbour has a history of child sexual abuse crimes.
"I was encouraged the other day when the government said it would start a register for domestic violence attackers," he said.
"But isn't pedophilia more serious than domestic violence?
"This isn't about encouraging vigilante action. It's a safety issue."
The minor parties will move to hold a public inquiry into the planned poles-and-wires privatisation during the first sitting of the new parliament.
"We are concerned about having the Chinese government involved and whether it's wise for a foreign government to own our poles and wires - a communist state," Rev. Nile said.
"ASIO will be asked to give a recommendation.
"There may be no security issue involved, but it's important to at least to look at."