Michael Pascoe writes:

In the expensive wash-up of another NSW
government farce, it looks like the SMH is starting to feel sorry for Premier
Dilemma.

The Great Carr Crash” screams the paper’s page one lead with the subhead: “The State Government will
squander $120 million on its desalination plant debacle. It is yet another of
Bob Carr’s costly legacies for his embattled successor, Morris Iemma.”

The story spills inside for a round-up of
five areas Bob Carr left in a mess – environment, transport, health, the
economy and education. That’s pretty much everything really – no wonder Morrie
is called Premier Dilemma.

Of course it’s a little late to find that
history will treat Bob Carr’s premiership unkindly – but that’s at least partly
the fault of a state opposition that’s no better and media organs that
former-journalist Carr and his army of spinners generally played masterfully.

The Daily Telegraph is taking the mineral water spin, promising water restrictions could be lifted
by August, but there are plenty of more sceptical voices in the SMH warning
that the aquifers are only good for limited help in the next drought emergency,
never mind the cynicism about that fact that their sudden “discovery” is at
best disingenuous.

The ability to still blow $120 million on a
plant that won’t be built is mighty strange, but a lot of that will be as a sop
to the two shortlisted consortia that were in line for the $1.3 billion deal.

As a longer-term insurance policy though,
buying the Kurnell land and having it ready for the weather unknown is not such
a bad idea. While there’s plenty that recycling, rain water tanks and, eventually, a
bigger dam or two can do, there’s no harm in keeping an option way to the back
burner’s rear just in case the greenhouse thing is serious and we start taking
it seriously. With a nice big nuclear power plant, the main environmental
problem with a desalination plant no longer exists.

Peter Fray

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