22 February 2023
On many occasions, I have sought to alert voters in New South Wales to the extraordinary and reckless economic management of the Perrottet Government.
In the interests of our children, someone has to speak up, because a proper analysis of the record barely exists.
Almost a fortnight ago, the half-yearly Budget Review revealed the NSW Government deficit would balloon from $2.8 billion to $6.5 billion, even though ‘soaring coal royalties’ – the coal royalties that Kean and Perrottet and their left-wing mates hate – delivered an $11.1 billion improvement in revenues.
Expenses grew by over $13 billion.
Far from boasting about economic management, everywhere you turn there are major problems, the solution to which, apparently, to win an election, is to throw around and promise more borrowed money.
I mentioned that Premier Perrottet is on record as saying that NSW has Australia’s fastest growing economy.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and it is not surprising when the principal component of economic management in NSW is to spend money.
The only valid measure of economic strength is Gross State Product per capita.
In other words, per head of population, how much are we producing?
On the most recent figures, NSW is second last.
Dominic Perrottet, advised by Yaron Finkelstein who presided over the Morrison catastrophe, says that it is important that the Coalition win this election.
It seems that money is no problem:
Four new metro lines in Western Sydney will be started under a re-elected Coalition Government.
That proposal has validity, but it will be paid for by debt; or is that why we have 40km per hour speed limits on some of Sydney’s busiest roads, a goldmine for the government.
One single camera alone at St Peter’s, on the six-lane Prince’s Highway, has gathered $4.7 million in 18 months.
The Opposition says drivers who have been stung by a draconian 30km per hour limit imposed in Liverpool, should be refunded; but the government seems to think that raising revenue, in any way, shape, or form will help pay some bills and there are plenty of them.
The Spanish-led consortium building new passenger trains for NSW is claiming more than $730 million.
Well, we have just come out of that train strike and, to solve it, the government agreed to design changes to carriages and driver cabins; so, the cost of the new fleet of trains will blow out by more than $1 billion.
Is this the economic management we are talking about?
Last August, an analysis by Transport for NSW forecast the cost of the foreign-made trains would surge by almost $827 million to $2.29 billion and that excluded the cost of settling disputes.
But don’t worry about cost!
The Perrottet Government is throwing $160 million of borrowed money in a spending spree, bolstering Western Sydney’s performing arts scene.
No one is more supporting of the performing arts than I am, but where the hell is this money coming from?
Western Sydney deserve better arts venues, but we don’t have appropriate economic management to pay for them.
Western Sydney needs more police.
The Police Association say staffing levels in Western Sydney are a recipe for disaster.
Some suburbs have been the backdrop of bloody gangland wars, yet those suburbs have some of the worst response times in the State.
It is one thing to say ‘elect us again, the state needs us’, but the record, on so many fronts, is woeful.
Matt Kean, the Treasurer and Energy Minister, two portfolios that almost contradict themselves, is gung-ho about electric vehicles, saying they would make up to 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030.
That is absolute rubbish.
He says he will build 30,000 new charging stations.
What’s more, he is offering $3,000 rebates for the first 25,000 new battery, electric, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Can someone tell me what we do with the batteries when they have to be replaced, 500kgs each?
This is the new religion.
But these nincompoops believe this stuff leads to a better environment.
Do you dig holes in the ground to dispose of two and a half million tonnes of battery waste every year?
I suggest that Matt Kean has no idea what he is talking about, but he sounds like Chris Bowen.
Fewer than 0.5 per cent of the cars in the United States are battery electric.
Kean says electric vehicles will make up 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030.
50 per cent.
Most scientific studies show that electric cars will increase in sales, but they will not take over the world and, by 2030, about 13 per cent of the new cars will be battery electric.
But Matt Kean says electric vehicles will make up 50 per cent of new car sales, in NSW, within seven years.
Yet the International Energy Agency says that, by 2030, ‘If all countries live up to their promises, the world will have 140 million electric cars on the road, SEVEN PER CENT of the global vehicle fleet…’
Talk about economic management.
Home insurance customers in NSW, and Dominic Perrottet is saying you must vote for him, this other mob are irresponsible!
Home insurance customers in NSW are paying almost three times the amount of state taxes paid by comparable people in other states.
This is a levy imposed on insurance companies and collected as part of customer premiums, which adds about 18 per cent to home insurance costs and 40 per cent to business insurance.
Good economic management?
Well, home insurance policies across NSW cost between $1,500 to $2,000, some up to $3,000.
Almost all Victorian home insurance policies cost between $1,000 and $1,500.
NSW residents are being ripped off.
But so are kids in Western Sydney.
We learnt recently that they are missing out on swimming carnivals because schools can’t get charter buses.
There is an unprecedented shortage of drivers.
This is what Dominic Perrottet should be talking about instead of cashless gaming technology that won’t be fully implemented until after 2028; and there is no business case for it, but he has promised to pay pubs and clubs one-off grants of up to $50,000 to invest in new income streams.
Money everywhere being thrown at people when, as one pub owner said, a $50,000 grant wouldn’t be enough to fund a soundproof band room.
How do you pay for this, this spiralling debt?
Well, last Thursday, the Premier was asked if there were any plans to sell more assets and he said he wouldn’t rule anything in or out.
Privatising Sydney Water was raised.
That was Thursday.
On Friday, when the Treasurer was asked whether Sydney Water would be privatised, he said no.
Do they know?
On Monday, the money kept flowing.
$130 million to put air conditioning in all Western Sydney public school classrooms.
Money to burn, or so it appears.
There is a brand new hospital at Maitland – $470 million, opened in January last year.
Doctors say they have no choice but to deliver sub-optimal care due to a lack of funding.
The hospital, brand new, is in crisis.
While Dominic Perrottet is boring people with cashless gaming cards, with virtually no details, just like Prime Minister Albanese is boring us with the Voice, the problems in the NSW electorate just mount up.
The number of people walking out of NSW emergency departments without being treated has doubled in 12 months.
Chronic staffing shortfalls.
Then we learn senior nurses in public hospitals are resigning in droves, suffering trauma and burnout from overwhelming workloads, leaving younger, less experienced nurses at greater risk of abuse from frustrated patients.
Dominic Perrottet is now promising to boost the number of nurses and doctors and allied healthcare workers.
Are we entitled to ask why he hasn’t already done it?
Aren’t battlers entitled to ask what is being done, where it matters, while all this money is being thrown around trying to bribe voters?
Between July and September last year, according to Bureau of Health Information, 60,000 people left emergency departments before receiving treatment, up 87 per cent on the same period in 2021.
Only 57 per cent of emergency department patients were treated in under four hours.
And, as I just said, the state’s newest public hospital in Maitland, which opened in January 2022, had the most emergency department walkouts.
2,481 between July and September.
Campbelltown Hospital, walkouts were up 160 per cent – 2,465.
Fairfield Hospital, walkouts up 147 per cent.
Northern Beaches Hospital, up 139 per cent.
Port Macquarie Base Hospital, up 191 per cent
Are these acceptable waiting times for voters in NSW who are entitled to ask what is being done?
The metaphor of incompetence surrounding the Perrottet Government is best exemplified by its attitude to COAL, Australia’s most valuable export commodity, $141 billion.
But, panicking, the government has now decided to exercise emergency powers, to tell coal producers how much they can export and how much they can’t.
They want coal to guarantee energy supplies.
This is a Liberal Government nationalising, virtually, a component of domestic coal production.
80 per cent of NSW coal is exported, yet you won’t get a new mine approved by this government.
So, if older mines are not replaced, what happens?
Coal is a relatively cheap fuel source and it is reliable.
The world will consume more than eight billion tonnes of coal this year for one simple reason – the global economy demands growing amounts of energy to power it.
But now we learn that a returned Coalition Government will legislate to ban offshore coal, gas, mineral and petroleum production in NSW waters.
However, the area in question is 50 kilometres off the coast, over which the NSW Government has no control.
They are Commonwealth waters.
But still, not a word about how our energy needs will be met.
Renewables, says an obsessed Matthew Kean.
And the Greens have confirmed that they want to ban all new coal and gas projects.
How is that different from the NSW Treasurer Kean?
The NSW Government wants to close down coal mines, when forecast coal royalties this year, for NSW, are $6 billion.
That is more than it is costing to build Sydney’s second airport.
$6 billion in one year.
This is a government in NSW which is putting energy security at risk and alienating our energy customers in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
The Japanese Prime Minister visited Australia last year to meet government leaders to raise concerns about rising energy nationalism in Australia, rising government intervention, introducing price caps, and keeping coal in Australia that was bound for our export partners.
This might be called many things, but it is not economic management.
All this while we had ferries and river cats and trams, the transport the taxpayer relies on, in disarray.
Foreign-made rolling stock.
Because it is a bargain, according to the economic managers.
It is not a bargain if it can’t do the job.
And then, of course, the boast that the government has built all of these roads when, in a sense, that is true.
The road infrastructure is magnificent.
But we pay twice.
We pay phenomenal tax and phenomenal tolls.
I’m sorry, this is not responsible economic management.
Last year, in the first Perrottet Budget since he became Premier, NSW was driven into deeper debt.
Someone has to take a stand against this.
The starting point it to inform the electorate, which I am doing.
The only savings in last year’s NSW Budget were $32 million, not billion.
$32 million in a Budget of $95 billion.
Remember when they were going to spend $25 million for a flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
The Budget was a $27 billion spending spree, that is 27 thousand million.
The annual expenditure growth was 26.5 per cent.
This is scandalous.
It is not Liberal.
I said, at the time, and I will say again, there is no precedent in Australian politics for this level of extravagance.
An increase in government spending for this financial year, in NSW, of 26.5 per cent, and the spending goes on.
Every day, as I have outlined, there is another spending announcement.
Gough Whitlam was regarded as the gold medallist of expenditure, going into debt, promises that couldn’t be afforded.
In 1974, his Budget increased outlays by 24.7 per cent.
People thought that record would never be broken.
Treasurer Kean broke it, cheered on by Dominic Perrottet.
Indeed, Treasurer Kean described the Budget as a ‘once in a generation reform budget for NSW… We are betting on our kids’.
You bet you are.
We are tying the debt albatross around their necks.
But then Matt Kean is going to save the planet.
So, the Budget had annual expenditure of $10 billion on so-called green energy programs to reduce global surface temperatures by decimal-point-naught-naught and you can add whatever you like.
Subsidise the construction of childcare centres, a federal responsibility.
Oh yes, $800 million in self-determination funding for Aboriginal affairs.
The spending goes on and on.
But nothing to reform the education system.
15-year-old Australian students are four years behind China in maths; three and a half years behind in science; a year and a half behind NSW school children of 20 years ago.
Our TAFE colleges look like industry archaeology of the 1970s.
A $6 billion blowout on the Chatswood to Bankstown Metro.
A $475 million blowout on the first stage of the Parramatta light rail.
Come on, is this economic management?
$3 billion in subsidies for so-called green hydrogen, a gift to billionaires who talk this nonsense.
$1.5 billion in subsidies for electric vehicles when most NSW voters can’t afford them.
$10,000 for a music busker for staff morale at the Department of Primary Industries zoom meetings!!!
$56,000 for Treasury staff to go to a woke SBS inclusion course described by Mark Latham as ‘basically propaganda, teaching them how to hate Australia’.
And that is before we start talking about this Transport Asset Holding Entity, set up in 2015.
It was allegedly designed to artificially boost the NSW Budget by billions of dollars by shifting rail expenses into a shell entity.
There was an investigation into all of this and it prompted the former Auditor-General, Tony Harris, to call this outfit, Transport Asset Holding Entity, ‘a vehicle of deception’.
Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, said the government had spent a fortune hiring spin doctors over four years to ‘cover up their mistakes’.
No objective commentator could argue with that conclusion.
On a range of fronts, this has not been a good government.
The last thing Premier Perrottet should be doing is suggesting that running a State Budget like a school tuckshop is something to be despised.
For my money, it would be a better economic model than the absurdly spend-thrift NSW Government that we have seen and continue to witness.
I am saying to voters, be careful, this is your money.
No one should be elected on promises that merely escalate the debt.
The Labor leader, Chris Minns, is running on the slogan ‘A fresh start for NSW’.
I agree with the slogan.
Who is going to deliver it?
But there is an arrogance about this current government which asks us to believe that they should be allowed to keep going as they are.
Someone has to say that what has been done is unacceptable and things have to be done better.
If Dominic Perrottet wants the voter to elect a Liberal Government, he should first start trying to implement Liberal philosophy.