The NSW Coalition celebrates its third year in office this week, but as usual there is a muddled message emanating from govcorp’s Macquarie Street HQ.
Predictably both the coalition and Labor claim opposite results with essential services, education and health. It’s either being reduced or restored, just like the environment and business.
But we do know that with three coalition MPs facing ICAC probes, neither side can claim much integrity. Former Liberal energy minister Chris Hartcher, along with fellow central coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber, are now swimming with Labor’s Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald and Tony Kelly in the same festering soup.
Banning lobbyists and corporate funding has always been the simple solution for turning around a toxic system that rewards greed over public service. But who’s game to make that change? Of course the (mostly) boys’ club won’t allow it; it’s the only way they know how to generate prosperity.
However, the nuanced art of politics is about bending the truth for personal gain, not snapping it in two. At a local level, political discourse continued at sub-sonic depths this week with three north coast Nationals MPs claiming that federal Labor MP Justine Elliot and the Greens voted against road funding in the lower house.
What? Voted against spending on roads?
Coalition MPs Geoff Provest (Tweed), Don Page (Ballina) and Thomas George (Lismore) were ‘alarmed’ the Roads to Recovery program could be scrapped. Mr Page said it would represent ‘a $2.9 million cut which local councils had no way of making up,’ and that part of the amendment was a key element of ‘continuing the road to recovery program post 30 June 2014.’
Interestingly, Mr Page was the only MP who made a comment with figures attached; the other MPs just frothed rhetoric.
But the amendment in question, the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014, clearly says ‘There is no net impact to the Australian government budget from this bill.’
When handballed back to Labor, federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese told The Echo that the press release was ‘bullshit,’ and that it was sent as a bulk press release by regional Nationals MPs.
He vigorously defended Labor’s roads budget and blasted the inaction of the coalition over infrastructure. As for any financial implications from the bill, Mr Albanese said that the Roads to Recovery funding is covered by the forward estimates and, as it was not an appropriations bill, there were no financial implications. (There are two types of bills, and non appropriation bills have no financial consequence.)
Do such vague and complicated shenanigans do the community any favours? I think I’ve just been bored to tears by Geoff, Don and Thomas.
Hans Lovejoy, editor