12 November 2008

Making excuses

Take this pudding away. It has no theme.

- Winston Churchill

The NSW mini-budget is a whole bunch of press releases looking for an overall set of principles, how to address the fact that NSW is an economic basket case, what to do about it, how not to make it worse. Rees and Roozendaal have shown that it is not patriotism, but toughness, that is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

I have long been critical of Marxists who have skipped past the moderate centre and popped up in the far right to fill its intellectual vacuum. No longer: the extremists have more in common with each other than with the moderate centre. Imre Salusinszky started off on the far left, ricocheted off the right and end up as an apologist for Australia's worst government. I'd rather be politically homeless than be a joke like Salusinszky.
HOW has it come to this? How can NSW be staring at a $915million budget deficit after reaping GST and stamp-duty windfalls from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s?

Wha'? There I was, having lunch with Bob Carr and enjoying a disquisition on Tocqueville in response to a question about the Parramatta to Chatswood rail line, now you're telling me it's 2008? Wha' happened?
The trend towards corporatisation, begun by former Liberal premier Nick Greiner in the late 1980s and continued by former Labor premier Bob Carr in the mid-1990s, brought an enormous productivity dividend.

However, this productivity growth flattened at the beginning of this decade.

Yeah, because the momentum generated by the Greiner government could only go so far. When you're no longer interested in government, when you're only focused on tomorrow's headlines and being advised by dills like Nathan Rees, you're going to stall. At a time of unparalleled growth in the history of humanity in this decade, there is no excuse for NSW Labor not to have put the infrastructure in place to ensure this state grows.
Payroll tax ... has remained robust in recent years, even as stamp duties have pulled back. It will now decrease, as a result of unemployment, and also as a result of $1.9billion worth of payroll tax relief unveiled in the June budget.

Bloody regressive taxes eh? Just when you need your revenue it's going to fall away! Whose idea of economic good sense is that?
Michael Egan, who was treasurer under Carr, and Michael Costa, treasurer under Morris Iemma, are formidable economic rationalists. They protected the public purse from most of the lunacies dreamed up by ministers.

No, they were clowns. What a shame that the only policy suggestions on offer were "lunacies", like giving parents a token $50, or getting public sector employees to give some productivity trade-off for their pay.

With that as the intellectual platform for understanding NSW's current predicament, no wonder he comes out with crap like this:
a gaping budget hole caused by the global economic crisis.

No, the gaping hole was caused by sheer indolence on the part of the State Government following the Olympics.
The Government will also collect an extra $939 million by deferring the abolition of a raft of so-called “nuisance taxes” that were supposed to be sacrificed by the states in exchange for the GST in 2000.

Those taxes are so-called, Imre, because they actually depress economic activity. You don't crow about takings that depress economic activity at a time like this.
the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel will be the first motorways in Australia to use time-of-day tolling ... The measure is designed to improve traffic flow in the Sydney CBD but will also raise $12 million each year.

In my observation, Imre, traffic into CBD Sydney does not only enter from the north. Rees and Roozendaal are playing class-war smart-alecks here, and they have no right to have their figures taken on trust.
On capital spending, the biggest surprise in the mini-budget is a commitment by the NSW Labor Government to build a $4 billion metro rail system in Sydney's CBD and inner west.

When he announced the CBD metro last month, NSW Premier Nathan Rees was hoping the project would be funded by the Federal Government as part of its planned $20 billion infrastructure spend designed to increase national productivity.

Deafening silence from Canberra, Imre. Not exactly a lot of clamour for yet another urban metro (isn't that what the monorail does? Or the Central to Lilyfield tram?) or for the huddled masses yearning for a trip to Rozelle. Do you really think these guys should be taken on face value?
In his speech to parliament at midday _ and his first ever visit to the NSW lower house _ Mr Roozendaal said he had crafted “a tough, decisive and detailed mini-budget demanded by the times in which we live.”

Yeah, he would say that, wouldn't he Imre. You make Glenn Milne look like Chris Masters.
The mini-budget was brought on by a $1 billion collapse in stamp duty revenues, as the Sydney property market sinks deeper into the doldrums, and a $450 million writedown of anticipated GST revenue as families cut back on spending in the face of the global economic downturn.

Also, the parliament's rejection in September of the Government's plan to privatise $10 billion in state-owned electricity assets has meant future capital spending needs to be re-ordered.

That, and 13 years of lazy government - helped by lazy reporting like yours, Imre. O the shame of being shown up by the SMH, here and here.
The Government will also introduce a licence fee for child-care centres of $700 a year for small services and $1100 for large services, to be introduced from 2009-10.

Nice one: just when this sector is at its most vulnerable, Nafe 'n' Eric go stealing food from the mouths of toddlers, and opportunities from their parents. This is clumsy, counterproductive policy at its worst: real journalists and proper oppositions should be all over this.

See Imre, Clenell illustrates by contrast:
"We have crafted a tough, decisive and detailed mini-budget demanded by the times in which we live."

Even though the North West Metro was dumped, the level of capital spending over the next four years only dropped from $57.6 billion to $56.8 billion.

Roozendaal had want to be so, so tough, because he's dopey and ineffective. Right up there with Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin in terms of "tough" and dumb - and politically doomed.

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