The Bleedin' Obvious


New South Wales residents go to the polls next Saturday. The incumbent Liberal government, led by Mike Baird, look likely to retain office, albeit with a much reduced majority. The major political issues dominating the campaign are as follows:

** Privatisation – The government wants to sell (well, it’s a 99 year lease which is the same thing) our poles and wires to private enterprise. The Labor party and the Greens oppose this. Public polls show that the majority of voters are against the sale - and for good reason.

The government will be selling out one of our few remaining assets. There’s every likelihood that power charges will increase, as they did in South Australia. People know that the profits that hold up a large part of the state budget will disappear. And people know that once the money from the sale is spent (on infrastructure presumably), there is nothing left. What happens in ten years time when major infrastructure spending is again required and we have no more public assets to offload? To sell the house to pay the mortgage simply makes no sense.

** Traffic Congestion – The government claims that money from the above sale would go directly to building new and improved roads. They rightly point out that traffic problems in Sydney are out of control. But additional roads are simply a short-term solution. There is no long-term plan to reduce this congestion, and it will inevitably be a major problem once again. Another ten years (again) and we’ll be back in the same situation. The problem is structural and calls for a look at the way we live and work.

I propose that the government look at offering incentives for business to implement telecommuting, staggered hours, and job sharing.

** Employment – Unemployment is at historically high levels. All the government seems to talk about is how much this is costing us in welfare payments. Again, there is no long-term strategy to create the jobs required. There is no innovative thinking that addresses this matter.

Again I propose that governments look at promoting the idea of job sharing. Instead of just telling us that we will need to work longer (more years) why isn’t there an incentive for business to offer job sharing opportunities to (particularly) mature workers, many of whom would love to work less hours.

** Law and Order – This one is trotted out every state election. ”Mandatory sentences”, “harsher penalties”, “more police” and “stricter judges” become the mantra. But people understand that the problems within our society that create the need for these things are never really addressed. And people know that our jails are already overcrowded and that the government just doesn’t have the money to build new ones. And people know that the same rhetoric will be spruiked at the next election – because nothing will have changed.

** Cops, Teachers and Nurses – Both sides have promised increased numbers, but the public is sceptical. Most of the figures quoted are smoke and mirrors. The stats take in the natural progression of graduates, without mentioning those who are leaving the system on a daily basis because of lack of resources.

A recent poll found that only 37% of the electorate could name the NSW premier. And far less could name the opposition leader. The fact is that the majority of people would like to see this level of government abolished. They certainly resent the compulsory voting law.

Geoff Mooney.