Pollie Crackers

The events of the last couple of weeks are enough to make you wonder whether there has been a deliberate attempt to confuse Pollie Crackers. What to include? What to leave out? Decisions, decisions.

Your scribe is not the only one with difficult issues, so this week’s dedication goes jointly to Malcolm Turnbull, Sam Dastyari and Don Burke: it is the old Everly Brothers’ song, “Problems, (Problems, Problems all day long).”

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The Federal Government has been backed into a corner by National Party mavericks and the banks, and forced to announce an inquiry into the banking industry after categorically castigating this suggestion for over a year.

This “regrettable but necessary” decision has not been a total surrender though, with the government imposing an almost unreasonable time limit of twelve months, then irrelevantly adding the industry superannuation funds to the mix.

The latter is not because of a profusion of complaints as with the banks, but because these superannuation funds are set up and managed by industry unions, and some of them choose to donate to the Labor Party. A cynic might think this was an attempt to dry up a source of funds for their competitors.Whether the inquiry achieves anything meaningful about the banks is largely dependent on the terms of reference and the appointed commissioner.

There is a strong suspicion that both these items have been decided in consultation with the banks. If so, the chances of any sort of justice for the many bank customers who have been systematically “dudded” appear increasingly remote.

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Meanwhile Sydney is not without its share of problems also. There was a long debate over a voluntary euthanasia bill which was ultimately defeated by a single vote. Many people who have endured the slow and painful death of a close relative or friend may be disappointed with this outcome. 

Coincidently a similar bill was being considered simultaneously in Victoria but they managed to pass theirs. Something that tickled the Feather Duster’s fancy with the NSW debate was that certain claims by Fred Nile were found to be untrue but when challenged, his response in admitting his error was to claim “God prompted me!” Some might say this was hypocrisy but Fred’s followers tend to be fairly forgiving.

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Your scribe’s memory is slowly becoming less reliable and ever more subject to spousal prompting and correction, but it seems to remember fairly clearly the rhetoric around the then Baird government’s campaign to sell off the “poles and wires” of the state-owned electricity companies so that the funds could be freed up to carry out significant improvements to the state’s essential assets, in particular the schools and hospitals.

In fact the campaign was well prepared and presented, and the majority of voters tended to accept the argument despite possible inner qualms.

Now we have the announcement that the Berejiklian government is going to spend up to 2.3 BILLION DOLLARS (!) on the simultaneous upgrading of two sporting arenas in Sydney.

One of these is the Homebush stadium constructed for the 2000 Olympics, less than 20 years old, the other being the Sydney Football Stadium next to the Sydney Cricket Ground.

This is on top of another undertaking to upgrade Parramatta Stadium. These two arenas cater for a range of sports but are rarely filled, reportedly only once or twice a year: the Sydney Football Stadium might struggle to achieve even that.

There has been no public demand for rebuilding. What’s the reason? If there is a demonstrated need for a bigger stadium, why two? The NSW Sports Minister states that more female toilets are needed, but if the government architects can’t retro-fit additional toilet blocks to the existing stadiums they should find another job.

As a side note, your scribe is not sure whether you can ever have enough female toilets: a slow-moving conga line of waiting women seems to be a permanent feature outside most. 

Here is a government which makes a great play of mouthing “transparency” and “accountability” for others yet hasn’t released any documentation such as the cost-benefit analyses or the business cases to justify the stupendous sum involved.

This can only lead people to the conclusion it has been a purely political decision because they have money (ours!) coming out their ears, and they want to try to match Melbourne’s superior venues. One would think that $2.3B would make a massive difference to many of the state’s hospitals and schools as first intended.

It looks like p***-poor prioritisation, aimed at enabling the pollies to big-note themselves. Very sad to me, but more so for the state.

T Lobb – 

Feather Duster No 3