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Wasteful government spending & Wayne Swan on the defensive.

September 5th, 2009 · Greg Atkinson · 33 Comments

I am often critical about the media because they simply do not dig beneath the surface of issues and raise tough questions with the Rudd Government. So I was pleasantly surprised when I watched Leigh Sales on ABCTV’s Lateline raise some awkward questions for the Federal Treasurer. Questions that he could not or would not answer, and that also had him visibly rattled.

Long before most media outlets were raising concerns about how the Rudd Government was tossing money around I highlighted how taxpayers funds were not being used effectively and that much of the spending was essentially aimed at getting the Government re-elected. (for example see Wasteful spending, poor planning and extreme socialism.)

A few people have said I was simply being unfair in my criticisms of the Government, but now it is becoming abundantly clear that money is being wasted and that programs such as the so called “Education Revolution” are little more than vote buying exercises.

In addition to the economic stimulus money not being used effectively, we are now also seeing massive cost blowouts and what should worry people is that the Government seems to think these are not a serious problem.

But don’t take my word for it, here is an exchange between Leigh Sales (ABCTV’s Lateline) and Wayne Swan (Federal Treasurer). (Follow this link: Swan defiant on Australia’s stimulus plans to read the full transcript of the interview or watch the video clip)

LEIGH SALES: “…….We’ve seen a $1.5 billion blowout in the primary schools infrastructure program and we’ve seen the Australian Electoral Commission now rule that the thousands of signs that you’ve put up at schools basically amount to political advertisements. Kevin Rudd acknowledged this week that there are problems with the stimulus implementation. How many more such problems await us down the track?”

WAYNE SWAN: “Well, Leigh, there will always be some problems around the edges of any massive investment program such as this one. But this school modernisation program has been a spectacular success; a success in terms of creating employment and bringing confidence to the economy. It is going to leave a lasting legacy in our educational system and it’s a very important part of the education revolution. And to trivialise that achievement by making some of the statements that Joe Hockey and Mr Turnbull has made means they don’t even understand the problem.”

I thought that Senator “IP Filter” Stephen Conroy was the most reckless spender in the Government, but it seems that Swan thinks that $1.5 billion dollars is just a problem “around the edges”. Using Swanny’s line of reasoning a budget blowout of around 10% is basically nothing. So in addition to the money that will be wasted, we might as well tack on an extra 10% or so right now to Government spending to cover the bits around the “edges”.

This is highlights the danger of letting people with zero business sense loose with our money. To them money falls from the sky, they don’t have to earn or struggle to generate income so they simply don’t focus on spending wisely.

If you want a good example of wasteful spending then we can once again look at Julia Gillard’s “Education Revolution” where millions of dollars will be spent putting up signs so people are reminded to be appreciative of our Dear Leader and Madame Julia for generously spending our money.

When Leigh Sales touched on this issue the Federal Treasurer clearly became rattled.

LEIGH SALES: “In a press conference this week, you said that we, meaning the Government, always do the right thing, we always act in the national interest. Could you please explain to me how spending $3.7 million putting up signs at schools trumpeting your work is in the national interest?”

WAYNE SWAN: “It’s quite easy to explain: it’s an important part of confidence. One of the things that’s occurred with our economic stimulus is that the impact has been greater than the sum of its parts. And I believe the investment in schools has led to much greater confidence in this program. Putting …”

LEIGH SALES: “But the signs …”

WAYNE SWAN: “Putting one of these buildings, Leigh, in every school across Australia, involving every community …”

LEIGH SALES: “Treasurer, I’m not asking about the buildings, I’m asking about the signs.”

WAYNE SWAN: “Well you can’t separate the signs from the building. The signs simply identify why its happened and the source of the funding.”

Now this little exchange contains a classic quote from Wayne Swan and illustrates what a complete dill he is when he says “you can’t separate the signs from the building.”

Yes readers, it seems in Wayne’s World of civil engineering a building can only be constructed when a sign is co-located with it. I suspect Swanny must have discovered some unknown structural relationship between signs and buildings. Perhaps if the sign thanking the Government is not put on site, then the building will collapse?

I also noted his comment: “The signs simply identify why its happened and the source of the funding.” No they don’t, otherwise the signs would have a message on them thanking the is our money not the Governments!

Perhaps in the interests of open and honest government each sign could highlight how much each building cost? Maybe then we could have something like this posted outside each school.

“This new library has cost you $250,000”

Now to be fair all levels of Government run around putting up signs, but this does not mean it is justifiable especially when Rudd promised that his Government would be different. It is different alright, it spends more.

I wonder how many homeless people could be sheltered for $3.7 million dollars? Are putting up useless signs that the Australian Electoral Commission have said are basically political advertisements a better way to spend money than looking after the homeless?

If Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan were really a new breed of politicians they would cancel putting up of any more signs at schools and use the money saved to do something that will truly be in the national interest, not their own.

It is interesting how Western nations scold dictators who use money to prop up their regimes at the expense of the people, and yet we have in front of us an example of the same thing happening in Australia.

Many people will simply say that the Howard Government did the same and that is suppose to defend the actions of the Rudd Government. Wayne Swan attempted to use this defence himself in the interview but this was quickly countered by Leigh Sales who remarked:

“Well, the argument that everyone else is doing it, so I should be allowed to do it is one that I couldn’t get away with it when I was 10 years old. Is it really an argument that adults in the Federal Government should be making?”

Spot on Leigh. Except you assumed that Wayne Swan is smarter than a 10 year old. His replies to many of the questions raised in the interview appear to challenge that assumption.

Hopefully from now on the media and the public will scrutinise the actions of the Rudd Government more closely. Our nation cannot afford to be wasting billions of dollars and we should not tolerate people in public office who think a $1.5 billion dollar cost blowout is not serious.

33 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gary // Sep 7, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Wayne Swan appears totally out of his depth in his role as Treasurer. I wonder what they think of him at the G20 meetings?

  • 2 Ralph // Sep 7, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Well covered, Greg. Have been a lazy follower of your blog – nice work.

    I watched the Swan interview and laughed the whole way through. His name really should be Goose. He really cannot offer anything more than standard responses and managed soundbites. He’s in the same league as Wong and Macklin there.

    We clearly have the B team with Goose as treasurer when Tanner would be a much better option. Sure, Swan has grown in the position and is not as inept as he was when he first came into the job, but he’s still pretty ordinary.

    I agree with Gary when he wonders what the G-20 finance ministers think of this clown. But I also wonder whether other countries have a similar wind bag sitting on the purse strings and we just don’t know it.

    It seems that we’ll have stimulus as far as the eye can see. It’s clear that the government IS the economy right now and they’re not going to kick away the crutches just yet. I suspect that it will be turned off at some point when we’ve finally spent too much. But who knows at what point that’ll be. I suspect that another cash handout won’t go down very well with the electorate. I hope they don’t resort to the printing press, but it won’t surprise me if they do. At some point, we’ve got to take our medicine.

    Final point – some interesting discussions about housing on this blog some time ago. If there’s one thing we can be certain of, the government will continue to support the housing market. They’ll let pretty much everything go to the dogs before they let housing go. I find it quite interesting that Australia now has an economy based around little more than buying and selling houses for increasing amounts. How sustainable is this?

  • 3 Greg Atkinson // Sep 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks Ralph, I appreciate the feedback. I agree with you that Wayne Swan is not up to the role of Federal Treasurer and I also think Lindsay Tanner would be a much better option. I have been quite impressed by what Lindsay usually has to say except when he switches into politician mode.

    You are probably right about the other ministers at the G20 meetings. Most of them are probably in the Swan league and just repeat what their advisors have told them to say.

    The stimulus spending has been a disaster in my view. If we had used the money to build high speed rail links, support the high tech sector and improve our export competitiveness etc. then that would have helped us all in the future. But pink bats (many of which were imported), cash handouts (again good for imports) school halls and extra money to prop up the housing market is not going to help us in compete in global economy much.

    I reckon you are right about the Government propping up the housing market and this worries me. I believe increasing the first home buyers grant was the wrong thing to do and if house prices fell back a touch that would have been nothing to worry about. I am not expecting a “crash”, but I reckon many new home buyers might not be to happy if they see interest rates rise and the value of their new home slip back once the extra money for first home buyers ends.

    Besides I have a problem with handing out money for nothing. Why is anyone entitled to money just because they want to buy a home? Wouldn’t it be better to give people a grant when they finish their degree or apprenticeship etc? If people want to rent why are they in effect discriminated against?

  • 4 Ralph // Sep 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Greg,

    Yes, money for nothing is rarely a good thing. I suspect that Australians now have an expectation that the government will step in and save the day when things go wrong. And in the main that’s what happens – from bailing out failing companies through to building school halls that aren’t needed to increasing first home buyers grants to keep house prices artificially high. Now the government has created a monster whereby if it doesn’t step in and bail the “battlers” out, it’ll lose votes.

    Another thing that I’ve noticed is that the banks are basically bankrupt, despite what we’re told about them being amongst the best capitalised in the world. They are just slightly less insolvent than banks elsewhere. What an achievement! The economy needs stimulus so that credit and spending doesn’t completely dry up and send the banks to the wall. Not to mention the banks taking a massive hit if house prices were to fall too much and reduce the value of their loan book. So the economy is still teetering on the brink of the abyss and the government is furiously spending all the money it can so that it can keep the wheels spinning until the next election. And it looks like that’s going to occur.

    I think the whole thing is very much smoke and mirrors at the moment and depends on how much longer the government can continue to artificially pump the economy. The solution to a problem caused by excess credit seems to be more credit. At some point, this will all end in tears. I think I’m an Austrian at heart – the market needs to be allowed to take its course and bad investments flushed out of the system. Obviously governments around the world are unwilling to allow that happen, so we have what we have.

  • 5 Greg Atkinson // Sep 7, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Ralph. I do believe we have become a nation where many people expect the government to come in and save the day. I read a while back where people stranded in Fiji during a tropical storm complained that the government did not send planes to get them out. Seems if you travel overseas these days then the defence force must be ready to evacuate you at a moments notice!

    I do tend to agree with you that we need to let corrections run their course somewhat. I do see a need for the government to help cushion the blow but I think when we get to a stage where governments are racking up debt to drive growth then we are simply pushing the problem back a little, but not really fixing anything.

    As I wrote a while back in “The great recession swindle: the power grab by governments” much of this spending by governments is a way for them to try and take control and distance themselves from many of the problems they helped to create!

  • 6 Ralph // Sep 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Spot on. And Rudd and Swan admit as much when they come out in the press and say that were it not for the stimulus unemployment would be ugly and we’d be in recession. They’ve basically admitted that they’ve run the national credit card to the max just to avoid a technical recession and look good. We have world-beating GDP numbers but it’s all based on borrowed money. I suspect we’ll find out soon whether there is a credit limit or whether they’re prepared to continue spending off into the never never. I’m crossing my fingers that they have the courage to impose a limit on themselves, but I don’t much hope. Quite sickening, really.

  • 7 Pete // Sep 7, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I know you are going to hate this Greg, but…

    Here’s a link to an interesting site about life in 1930 – taken from newspapers:


    I took some points from it a week or so back. Do any of them sound familiar? I find it interesting (check out the site to see plenty more). The points below are the ones I personally found interesting:

    Aug 16
    Leading economists say improvement in business will come through cuts in output eventually reducing inventories. However, output cuts do in turn cause further cut in consumption due to reduced purchasing power, and “the vicious circle continues until the point of minimum consumption is reached.” This then causes recovery as production is increased. Low production this year has been “working toward an ultimate cure of the overproduction situation.”

    Aug 15
    Prominent trader notes that where in 1929 he was eagerly buying stocks at 20-40 times earnings, he now is reluctant to buy stocks at under 10 times earnings.

    Companies reporting decent earnings: American Safety Razor, International Paper & Power, Hackensack Water Co.

    Aug 13
    US has 7% of world population, but consumes 69% of crude oil, 47% of copper, 56% of rubber, 48% of coffee [!], 21% of sugar, 35% of electric power. Produces 70% of oil, 60% of wheat and cotton, 50% of copper, 40% of coal. Holds about 50% of world’s monetary gold, 2/3 of “total banking resources.”

    Companies reporting decent earnings: Mead-Johnson (baby and diet foods), Standard Cap & Seal, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad [against general trend].

    Heads of large steel companies, including US Steel and Bethlehem, come out against wage cuts reportedly discussed by smaller steel companies on grounds that they would slow business recovery.

    Aug 12
    Goodbody & Co. now advise caution: “There is nothing in the news to cause any haste to buy stocks … This week should test the market further, and we advise caution in making commitments on either side.”

    Strange dispute between France and Britain about gold shipments required by gold-backed currency. Conditions have been such that Britain has been required to ship large amounts of gold to France. Britain has now said it will only ship “standard” gold bars (91.6% gold) instead of “fine” bars (99.5%). France not willing to accept them since refining “standard” into “fine” bars is expensive; “it would be wiser for nations, when establishing the ‘gold-bullion’ standard, to define what they mean by ‘gold bullion.’”

    Chain stores, grocery stores, and restaurants generally had a poor July, including Sears, Ward, Woolworth, Kresge, Safeway, National Tea, Childs. Biggest decline in sales was Sears, 14.9%, most declines in single-digit percentages; few companies showed gains.

    Companies reporting decent earnings: Melville Shoe, National Electric Power Co., Equitable Office Bldg., American Bank Note (stock/bond certificates).

    Aug 11
    Fed. Reserve committee “analyzing causes of numerous bank failures in recent years,” to develop new national policy on branch banking.

    Some July bullish operators remain positive in spite of Friday’s break blamed on drought effects; analogy seen to 1921 which had similar June selloff, weak July rally, and August break; this laid the ground for the great 1920’s bull market.

    Conservative observers continue to advise remaining on sidelines “until there is something definite to indicate that a decided change for the better has come.”

    M.H. Karker, Pres. Jewel Tea Co.: early and sharp recovery improbable due to “extent of the previous period of prosperity and inflation” and previous universal bullishness; “American business has danced and must pay the piper, and the future outlook will brighten in proportion as businessmen tackle the jobof putting their house in order and quit waiting for the fairy godmother of another bull market.”

    Aug 9
    Old Timer: “The sun has always shone again after the clouds have passed; business has always gotten better after it has been poor and, last but not least, the stock market has always gone up again after it has had a decline.”

    Current market conditions viewed as contest between bull and bear professionals, with little public following to either side. “Leading observers” trying to keep customers out until stocks break their trading range to either side.

    J. Barnes, Chamber of Commerce chair, says worldwide depression will “end upon a manifestation of revived confidence” which will unlock idle capital.

    British Electrical & Allied Mfg. Assoc. sees “danger point” in world economic crisis in summer of 1931. Blames crisis on inability of gold standard to adapt to reparations and American debt settlements.

    The quote from the old timer at the end there is interesting. Whilst I actually believe in respecting the wisdom of the elderly (believe it or not) it just goes to show how wrong some people can be. The USA was in for almost another decade of depression when he said that. To the old timer who would have seen the 1890’s(?) recession, of course he thinks that things will boom again – they did for a the few decades that led up to the Great Depression.

  • 8 Pete // Sep 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Incidentally, after that little conversation you have provided the transcript for above, Wayne Swan actually said something a bit nasty to the reporter (I saw it on TV, the tone wasn’t nice):

    “WAYNE SWAN: Leigh, I believe that you are simply off the rails with this sort of criticism…”

    And she wasn’t at all. He was getting quite angry about it. Not a good image.

    I agree with the other commenters that he is an awful treasurer. I have watched him in question time and he is awful there too, he simply doesn’t answer questions at all, just starts talking about other things. It drives the opposition up the wall.

    Most of the time I don’t feel like it is Swan running treasury side of things anyway. Its probably Rudd. Or Tanner. Or a bunch of lackeys in the Treasury.

  • 9 Greg Atkinson // Sep 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Pete, actually as a bit of a history buff I often go back and look at what has happened in the past. But of course we can also dig up headlines from other market routs where the “green shoots” did indeed indicate a recovery was on the way. As I have mentioned before the events in the years before the Great Depression had a big impact on the global economy and we have not seen anything like those sorts of events this time around. So for my money I think we have escaped the big “D” but this does not mean everything is peachy.

    As I wrote just recently there will be a recovery in some form but that does not mean things will get back to normal. I suspect many of the worlds leading economies will have quite a few tough years ahead of them. But as usual anything we think will happen probably won’t 🙂

    As for Swanny, I was trying to go easy on him but after I saw what a tosser he was on that Lateline interview I decided he was now fair game. I saw the comment you refer to that he made to Leigh Sales, a touch spiteful I thought, especially when Leigh made a pretty valid point,

    Mind you the Opposition has thrown up Joe Hockey as their choice for Treasurer and to be honest I don’t think he has a clue either.

  • 10 Senator13 // Sep 7, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    The Lateline interview was a joke and he has the nerve to say that Leigh Sales is “off the rails”. You have got to be kidding. These were all perfectly legitimate questions. Then he backs it up with a messy performance on Insiders where when asked what tough decisions he has taken he mixes up the age he raised the retirement age to. I can understand that people can have a bad day but this is getting ludicrous. “…can’t separate the signs from the buildings…” Where do we draw the line?

    At least Swan is trying to do hard interviews – where is Rudd?? I have not seen him on the 7:30 Report or Lateline for a long long time.

  • 11 Pete // Sep 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Senator: Not to defend Rudd, but Howard didn’t do the hard interviews either.

    Leigh didn’t do or say anything wrong. In fact it was a very simple question that he clearly couldn’t answer. “Er, we put the signs up because being recognised for the work is really important for elections n’ stuff”.

    All he had to do was say that the signs were so that the public could easily see where the money was being spent. And so that the public knows that their money is going to the right places, rather than just to rich private schools (and he could even throw in a Howard reference). Easy.

    Although I do feel for them sometimes when they are put on the spot. But if they can’t handle it, they shouldn’t be trying to do that job. Besides, they could always ‘tell the truth’ (okay that was another joke).

    And I agree Greg that Hockey is terrible. I actually despise his chubby rich kid face. Not because of his face. Because of him. He is really the epitome of “clueless privileged polly”, being member for North Shore in Sydney. I wonder what his biases are? (haha)

  • 12 Greg Atkinson // Sep 7, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Pete I think the problem with the schools funding is that it does go to rich schools as well, in fact it seems to go anywhere as long as you put up a sign. I read where some school in an affluent suburb for example had to squeeze in a new hall between the pool and the tennis courts!

    I agree the previous government was in the sign business as well, but I am tired of one side of politics simply defending themselves by saying the other guys did it before. No wonder the standard of government never seems to improve.

  • 13 Pete // Sep 7, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I read where some school in an affluent suburb for example had to squeeze in a new hall between the pool and the tennis courts!

    They said in Question Time today that one school got a $250,000 grant to build a library…but it only had one enrolled student.

    …I see about the rich kids school thing now, thanks. I should have read up on it.

    Probably the only thing that improves Government is a revolution. They’re not easy to come by.

  • 14 Senator13 // Sep 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Pete – Yes, Howard did not go on Rove lol. But in all seriousness, I just seem to recall Howard on the 7:30 Report/Lateline going head to head with Kerry O’brian/Tony Jones more then what Rudd has. Maybe it is just me, I am a bit biased. It would be an interesting stat to find out anyway…

    Leigh was doing the right thing and I think it was actually a really good interview on her half. Swan could have done what Rudd does and just palm it off to Gillard or say he would look into it or something. But some of the things he said were just dumb.

    I do have a soft spot for the politicians and do think they should get paid more. Some days it must be damn hard having to get up and face the music from Parliament/media/constituents day after day with everybody writing about you (eg us right now right through to the big TV and Newspapers) and analysing your every move. They also do a hell of a lot of travel each week. You would have to have some pretty thick skin to do that every single day. It is a pretty thankless job.

    On the other hand, they are our elected officials and no body should expect anything but the best from them.

    And his school funding is really getting a bit out of hand.

  • 15 Greg Atkinson // Sep 7, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Senator13 – being an ex-navy guy I find it hard to feel sorry for MP’s doing a bit of domestic travel. But I do feel we are not paying enough to get the top people into politics and my view is we need less but better paid representatives as opposed to having hundreds of dills out there. Myself and Ned S pondered this questions a while ago after I posted: Bring back the toga and lose the House of Representatives!

    Maybe my idea of getting rid of the lower house is a bid radical, but I still think we would be better to focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to elected reps. I mean how many people do you need to open a sports oval?

  • 16 Pete // Sep 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Senator13: I actually agree that pollies pay is kinda crap.

    But…they have a lot of perks. Ask the QLD Gov about those 😉

    Really, they do get a lot of perks. And the work they do is a lot different to most other types of work. It is like a continual game of keeping up appearances. Swan gets Treasury to do all his work. Each minister just gets their department to do all the hard work for them.

    Their job is really as a spokesperson and an orator, a public speaker, representative, debator (especially in question time)…and sometimes a leader.

    So whilst they do a lot of stuff that most people would cringe at, they also don’t do a lot of stuff that we are expected to do in typical jobs.

    And still corruption is rife 🙁

  • 17 Greg Atkinson // Sep 7, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Pete..yes, let’s not forget the perks. Ex NSW Ministers can walk away with a pension of $130k a year (or more) for example even if they totally mess up. They then find cosy little consultant roles etc. and bring in a bundle more just because they have “contacts”.

  • 18 Senator13 // Sep 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Agreed, I never said it was bad. Just would be hard sometimes being under the scrutiny of the 24/7 media cycle.

    They also did choose to do it, so they defiantly can not complain especially when they are going to get that cushy pension and consultancy/directorship roles at the end of it!

    Coping a bit of flack is good for them I think. Keeps them honest and hopefully no more governments go the way of NSW… It is for these reasons that I think we must never compromise or lower our standards of what is acceptable and need to keep striving for better to ensure that the very best people are in such important roles.

    Currently I do not think that either side is fielding their best team in minister/shadow minister roles. Too much infighting, even in Labor, they are just better at hiding it as they are in Government and the Opposition is of more interest to the media for the time being.

  • 19 Jane // Sep 8, 2009 at 3:22 am

    I have reached the point with this government where I am almost speechless with anger and fear for the future. I was gobsmacked when Swan brushed aside a mere $1.5 billion blowout on the schools infrastructure and our TV was lucky to survive the gobbledygook he spouted with regard essential signs. I could think of no more dangerous position for a moron than to be Treasurer of the country. As much as the lies, backflips, broken promises, blowouts and blunders of the Government are those voters who cannot/will not acknowledge that repayment of loans and deficit recovery will come from their pocket. It seems to be a case of the deliberately blind leading the deliberately blind. We had the RBA raising rates to slow down the economy while storm clouds were brewing, swiftly followed by panic stations. Now, while the Government is stimulating the building unions, oops, economy, the RBA is making noises about interest rate rises to slow everything down. Not only conflicting economic stories and actions but a Government competing with business for money, labour and supplies in a purported recovery. What exactly is the plan? This is going to end in tears.

  • 20 Pete // Sep 8, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I agree.

    It is sad that a country with so much potential has got to this stage. I don’t solely blame the current Government though, I think the previous one had ample time (and resources!) to plan a better future for Australia. It just so happens that the current Government is left with a mess to clean up.

    However…they are doing an awful job of cleaning up this mess. To the extent that I believe they are making it much worse.

    And whilst I am sure everyone will survive this mess, the prosperity of future generations is definitely in question.

  • 21 Ralph // Sep 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I agree, Jane. It’s rather dispiriting. It’s the performance of the current government that gives Labor a reputation of being loose with money.

    There really seems to be no end in sight. The gov has said that their borrowing limit is $300b. It would surprise me if they sail past that. But I guess that’s chickenfeed when you look at the US. Frightening. I wonder how they’ll ever pay that off. I guess they won’t – I reckon the dollar will be trashed before we get to that stage.

  • 22 Greg Atkinson // Sep 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Our commodities will probably support our dollar but much of what we earn from iron ore, LNG, coal etc is going to end up heading back to the foreign owned companies who have been buying stakes in our mines etc. I note that the Gorgon project for example is a joint venture between Chevron, Shell & Exxon Mobil. So yes we have the resources, but a lot of money will be flowing out of the country.

  • 23 Ralph // Sep 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Yeah, pretty much all we have is what’s in the ground. And on top of that, we just buy it back from overseas at higher prices in the form of value added finished goods. Yes, we are quite possibly the only developed economy that operates on a third world model. But ironically, that’s probably part of what’s saved us from a technical recession, given that we don’t have much manufacturing (ignoring molly-coddled car makers).

    Tanner made some good comments the other day about using the downturn to work on addressing some structural issues. He also suggested that we need to start thinking about what we’ll be selling the rest of the world in 10-15 years. At this rate, it’ll probably still be dirt.

  • 24 Greg Atkinson // Sep 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Ralph, I was reading today that the Japanese are moving to develop the next generation of LNG tanker ships so they can tap into the demand for these vessels as large projects in Russia & Australia come online. I was thinking to myself, why on earth aren’t we designing and building these ships? Norway is even in on the game..but Australia? Goodness me.

    Lindsay Tanner made some good points the other day. Sadly he is from the party that refuses to even look at nuclear power so there is another example where we will dig the stuff up (Uranium) but not try and value add by getting a nuclear power industry up an running. Not to mention the flow on benefits in areas of nuclear medicine for example.

    Now would have been a good time for the government to kick start a new industry…but it seems it will not be happening. Although we do seem to have helped out Chinese makers of solar panels and pink bats.

  • 25 Pete // Sep 16, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I think this sums up how Leigh felt about that:

    Just answer the question

    (I assume they all drink blood for breakfast)


  • 26 Greg Atkinson // Nov 5, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Well doesn’t this article in The Australian today say it all. The result so far of the Government’s public housing program is less public housing!,25197,26307196-601,00.html

    But thousands of homes have been repaired but don’t dare ask why many needed repairing in the first place because you won’t like the answer – they were damaged by the tenants!

    I asked in February this year in Rudd’s $42 billion dollars: the mother of all blunders “have we fixed the management problems with public housing?”..well clearly the answer is no.

    More wasted money, but it stills helps GDP growth.

  • 27 Greg Atkinson // Nov 5, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Pete, thanks for the link. I find most interviews with politicians of any flavour hard to watch!

  • 28 Ralph // Nov 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Yeah, shocking. But I can’t say I’m all that surprised, though. The wasted spending passed off as ‘stimulus’ as a response to the so-called GFC is nothing short of incredible. I think there would be no end of stories of wastage of this sort. But we’ll probably never hear about many of them.

  • 29 coetsee // Dec 31, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Hi, I think your website is interesting very colorful. Good job! I feel helping job seekers finding their ream home jobs are a fulfilling quest. Good luck in your quest too. I don’t solely blame the current Government though, I think the previous one had ample time (and resources!) to plan a better future for Australia. It just so happens that the current Government is left with a mess to clean up.

    However…they are doing an awful job of cleaning up this mess. To the extent that I believe they are making it much worse.

    Thanks N Regards


  • 30 Ned S // Feb 8, 2010 at 11:41 am

    This is a real SHOCKER :,23739,26691622-952,00.html

    2% of rooves with foil insulation in them are “live”. Kev’s next stimulus program can be rectifying the “faulty” work done in the last one!

  • 31 Greg Atkinson // Feb 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Ned, if a company CEO put in place a programme as bad as the home insulation mess and someone was killed, they would possibly be facing legal action.

    But when politicians do the same things….nothing happens.

    Those clowns in Canberra talk about accountability…but apparently this applies to everyone but themselves.

  • 32 Greg Atkinson // Sep 26, 2012 at 10:22 am

    It seems people (and the media) are finally becoming aware what a waste of money the BER really was. How is this for just plain stupid:

    “PUBLIC schools were discouraged from using $3.5 billion in Building the Education Revolution funds to replace outdated demountable classrooms or ageing toilets and told to build “iconic” libraries or halls.”

    Source: Schools made to build halls they didn’t need | The Telegraph

  • 33 Frank // Sep 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I watched the BER in Perth from the sidelines and it was without doubt the greatest waste of Taxpayer money on record (though todays press on the costs of Peter Slipper may eventually trump it).

    The roofers though (my son included) all did terribly well charging a couple of times normal rate because they could. I guess if you look at the end result of this stimulus, the winners were Dan Murphys, Brittish American Tobacco and Pacific Brands as every roofer treated themselve sto a new pair of Dunlop Volleys for their effort…..

    In return out nation is plunged into unneccessary debt and our schools are largely no better for the vast expense.

    If Wayne Swan is the best treasurer in the World, may God help every other country!

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