The Australian Financial Review reports…
“The man with the decisive vote in the NSW upper house doesn’t much like the term “balance of power”.
“I prefer to call it the balance of prayer and responsibility,” the Reverend Fred Nile, 80, tells AFR Weekend in an interview in his office in NSW Parliament House.
Despite his emphatic victory in the state election last weekend, Premier Mike Baird will need Mr Nile’s support to privatise half of the state’s electricity network – the so-called poles and wires – to raise the $20 billion slated to fund the rail, roads, schools and hospitals at the core of the Coalition’s second-term agenda.
But as disclosures by Mr Nile make clear, don’t expect the chaos of the Canberra Senate to make its way to NSW Parliament on Macquarie Street.
The latest meeting between Mr Nile and Mr Baird ended in a prayer session. It’s a far cry from the fireworks that followed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s infamous post-election meeting with independent Senator Jacqui Lambie.
Mr Nile met Mr Baird and his chief of staff Bay Warburton for an hour on Tuesday afternoon in the Premier’s office on Level 20 of the government’s tower at 52 Martin Place.
“I raised with him the poles and wires, and told him what I thought about it. I think he just wanted to have a friendly chat,” Mr Nile’s recalled.
The Christian Democratic Party leader repeated his insistence on an inquiry in the upper house to gather expert evidence to reassure the public of the benefits of the privatisation. And, once again, he insisted that there be no forced redundancies for workers at the three government-owned firms up for private operation: high-voltage transmission business TransGrid and electricity distribution businesses Ausgrid and Essential Energy.
“At the end of it he said: ‘Do you mind if I have a prayer?’,” Mr Nile said.
“I said: ‘No, I’d love you to’.”
So the Premier, Mr Nile and Mr Warburton – son of prominent businessman Dick Warburton – prayed that God would guide them and help them do his will.
Mr Nile responded by praying for the Premier, “asking God to bless him, and help him in his role as Premier”.
Mr Nile said his relationship with Mr Baird was friendlier than his good but “businesslike” relationship with his predecessor as premier, Barry O’Farrell.
Is there anything that could turn him into an obstructive upper house force? “If the government said tomorrow: ‘We’ve decided to scrap scripture’, I’d say ‘unless you restore it, we won’t support legislation,” he said, before conceding that scenario is not very likely.”