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 taxpayers..it 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.