Marn Ferguson, Labor’s very own once were economic warrior. We’ve come to know Marn well as he troops around the countryside, flogging uranium and pretending to be the new economic guru. What we haven’t seen lately is Marn reverting to type. The mate of big business, the mate of corporatism, the mate of the boardroom – good old anti-competition Marn.

We saw Marn in action with Qantas and the Sydney to LA route. Marn backed Qantas against Singapore Airlines. Always has – it was ever thus. But now we have Marn backing that oh-so-little victim, BHP Billiton, on the Mt Newman railway access .

Costello squibbed the access call. Letting the whole thing lapse the 60 day test, despite a positive recommendation from the National Competition Council, Costello showed why he can’t hold a candle against Keating. First Woodside, now Mt Newman. Costello knows only one way: to back the incumbent.

But what does Labor do with this sort of free kick? Nothing. Marn, instead of hopping into Costello for his lack of commitment to competition, backs the decision to deny access to the line. So much for economic credibility. Marn, needless to say, would have preferred Costello rejected the access full stop. But what the heck, he’ll take a no competition anyway it comes. Just as it was on Singapore and the LA route.

This Marn bloke knows no bounds. The mate of Qantas is now the mate of BHP Billiton. How he honestly flogs uranium and comes up with this shocker is amazing. The bloke is shameless, just shameless.

Peter Fray

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