The right wing of the NSW Labor party runs the state with a Machiavellian eye, which dominates the thinking of Premier Morris Iemma. Every opportunity to maintain its influence is taken, no matter the sensitivity or public disgust.

So with the lockdown of Sydney’s CBD on in earnest today, what a great time to hold a public hearing into an application by City Rail to lift fares by 20 cents, and weekly passes by up to $3.

The hearing will be held by IPART, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (the discussion paper for the review can be found here).

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IPART and the Government would have known for some time that today would be a hard day for people to make it into town to attend the hearing and that some of the public transport activists might be off at other APEC related protests.

So what a wonderful way to make sure a minimum of pesky members of the public (AKA voters AKA commuters) turn up to show an interest in what is a forgone conclusion: that rail fares will rise.

Michael Costa, the state treasurer will be pleased: City Rail will get more money with little opposition and he won’t have to raid the budget to keep the network ticking over.

Meanwhile, NSW political hardheads note with interest the way Iemma has been kept in the background when details of the APEC security arrangements are being given. He’s only appeared when he’s needed to look like the Premier. The leader of the ALP left in Government, Transport Minister John Watkins, has been lumbered with the updates. It must be galling for the left to be associated with The Fence That Ate Sydney’s CBD.

Others wonder if the security overkill is an ALP plot designed to help the city associate the loss of mobility and rights with John Howard.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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