Waste and maladministration of the Western Australian Liberal and National Government has surprised observers, leading to one wag nicknaming it "W. A. Wink*." The ongoing saga of deceptive practices keeps the news media well-supplied with newsitems.
Some of the evidence that all is not well with the Western Australian Government's management style in 1999 is listed below. The saga continues of letting contracts without tender, extravagance and grandiose "White Elephants," deception, advisers using their positions to do private deals and sometimes transferring to the private firm that takes over a government function which they helped as officials to privatise, closure of facilities for the aged and the mentally ill, and even a 5 per cent cutback for health facilities in July 1999 while the immigrant-fueled population increase continues.
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Over-spending of $300m: The WA Government has spent
more than $300 million over the amount sanctioned by
Parliament in the Budget so far this financial year, it was reported
early in 1999. [Financial years in Australia are from 1 July to 30 June.]
Aged man to help pay for privileged firm's development plans. See Levy below. Senior citizen Peter Baltovich has been given a month to leave his Innaloo market garden home, and to pay $320,000 IN ADVANCE towards the realignment of Oswald Street which is part of a scheme of the City of Stirling and the Fini Group's Innaloo development plan. (Sunday Times, February 28, 1999, page 3 -- "Highway robbery.")
Hospital has to phone for a doctor! Swan District Hospital at Midland has no resident doctor, so a roster of local doctors is kept for emergency call-ins. The West Australian, March 5, 1999, p 7
16-hour days for young learner-doctors! The Coalition has condoned the continuation of the longstanding dangerous practice in bigger hospitals of young interns being expected to remain on call for up to three 16-hour days per week.
Mandurah railway -- the long way around. "Premier ties rail link to gas sale." The proposed railway to Mandurah won't pass through Fremantle, nor use the other EXISTING standard-gauge railway that goes southwards from Fremantle. Instead, it will branch off from Kenwick. Note that the attempt to make the sale of Alinta Gas a condition of the proposed Mandurah rail link was denied within hours. The West Australian, March 11, 1999, p 1.
Kwinana Freeway -- waking up after $0.75m wasted. The Government will spend $750,000 to recoup five engineering firms for the cost of scrapping designs for five bridge flyovers for some of the Kwinana Freeway extension, because their instructions made no provision for rail, even though there has been planning for the Mandurah rail link for years. (The 26 March Narrows Bridge "turning of the sod" ceremony makes one wonder if any provision for rail is being planned there.) The West Australian, March 11, 1999, p 5
Levy victims will start class action. See Aged above. Innaloo residents including senior citizen Peter Baltovich (levy account for $320,000; see above) will start a class action against the City of Stirling. The city had refused to withdraw a town planning levy imposed on landholders. "Locals to sue over levy." Sunday Times, March 14, 1999, p 21.
Health-- low priority. Hip replacement deferred. The West Australian, March 20, 1999, p 50
Car firm gets cushy ride from Government. Although the State Government's vehicle fleet has been privatised, and the vehicles are now bought and sold by a private operator, the operator can pass the shortfall in resale prices on to the Government. At the time of privatisation the Government said there would be savings of $8m to $10m a year. But savings are now estimated to be only $2.5-$3m a year. "State gets bill for fall in fleet car hire profits." The West Australian, March 22, 1999, p 29. See Leases and Fiasco below
Cabinet Chamber -- "Putting on the Ritz." It was reported around February or March 1999 that a large sum had been spent just on the investigation stage of a proposal for refurbishing the Cabinet Room in some building in Perth, but that the main work would not proceed at present, because of the deficit. Why waste scarce resources on idle pomp and show?
Favours for our friends: The appointment of people, and the ordering of work, without going through the proper channels, is reported in the news media at various times.
Robbs Jetty, Railway workshops. Of course, we must add the broken election promises not to close Robbs Jetty Abattoir and the Midland Railway Workshops. Did you notice the Gonanin engineering move in 1998 or 1999?
Diesel buses instead of using W.A. gas. What about the Government ordering diesel buses instead of buying gas ones, while WA has plenty of unused gas capacity? (and, see March 27 1999 item)
Imported fuel, not local. Who can forget the history of the Coalition building an oil-fired power station years ago, in spite of there being plenty of coal at Collie? Crude oil prices rose after that, but the Coalition and their backers keep preferring overseas suppliers.
Deaths from 'dirty' diesel. The Australian Medical Association said that hundreds of Australians could be killed by the likely move to cheaper diesel as a result of proposed Federal Government tax changes. Of special concern were the fine particulates from diesel engines. Ron Jowett of Isuzu-General Motors said that the technology existed to reduce the emission of particulates, nitrous oxide, etc, but "... we can't sell the latest technology in Australia because of the quality of our fuel. The quality is dreadful, no better than a third world country." The West Australian, March 27, p 46 -- "Old trucks must go: Isuzu boss."
Buses used to be private -- the fashion changed, and now it's changed again. With the recent privatisation of Transperth, it would be educational to read the history of the Coalition's actions around the 1950s when they acceded to the requests of the private bus companies to buy them out. State enterprise was right in those days, but nowadays it's wrong!
Regional Forests Agreement (RFA) -- no escape for 20 years. The Regional Forests Agreement (RFA) will bind the States and the Commonwealth for 20 years. (Note -- the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which was due to be signed in May 1998 until there was a world outcry, and then late last year the French Government refused to go on, was to bind nations for 20 YEARS. ) To learn more about the RFA, click forests.htm
Native Title Poll. Critics said that public funds had been used for partly political purposes, when a State-funded poll was held about native title. The pollsters said that 74% of those polled wanted stricter criteria for native title . (The West Australian Thur April 1 1999, p 4 "Probe on native title poll urged").
Joondalup Hospital Funds mystery. The privatised Joondalup Hospital says it has insufficient funds to handle elective surgery, and has suspended it. The Health Minister's spokesperson said that commercial confidentiality prevented him saying how much money the State had granted the hospital company Health Care Australia (The West Australian Thur April 1 1999, p 5 "State silent over Joondalup cash"). Later, financial details were released to Parliament and so to the public.
Main Roads Department -- No tender. A contract for at least $500,000 was given out to Evans and Peck without going through the tender process, although the rules state that anything over $50,000 must go to tender. (The West Australian Wed April 7 1999, p 9 "No tender for big road deal")
Accrued unpaid leave. It's another way of hiding part of the true deficit. Don't worry if the staff get burnout. Long service and annual leave accrued but neither taken by nor paid to the State's employees now total $1 billion. (The West Australian, Mon Apr 12 1999 p 9) [This is one of the ways of pretending to the electors , the Auditor-General and the Governor that the Deficit is less than the real shortfall. This financial year's Deficit up to about March 1999 has been announced as more than $300 million, but older political commentators believe the real deficit will be much higher than the announced figure. The most recent example of the practice was when the Howard-Fischer federal government took office, and criticised the Keating hidden shortfall of about $8 billion. Labor quickly pointed out the equally-damaging hidden deficit when a government of which John Howard had been Treasurer had been defeated at the polls about 13 years earlier.]. Adding this $1bn to the Deficit of $300m that had been admitted earlier in 1999 means an error of more than 300%. And to think that an accountancy firm figures in the family history!
Gold to be wasted in liquor -- The unspeakable quaffing the undrinkable! -- Modern technology beats the Midas curse! About 250 privileged people will drink bottles of $20 to $30 champagne sprinkled with gold flakes at Gold Corporation's centenary dinner for the Perth Mint. GoldCorp is owned by the State Government. Opposition spokesperson Lily Ravlich said it was an example of extravagance. A small elite would quaff gold and champagne, while workers tightened their belts in expectation of a Budget deficit. (The West Australian Fri April 16 1999, p 3 "Gold flakes for champagne banquet") Total cost might be $24,000. [Good economics courses include a section on "conspicuous consumption," which is one of the many causes of world poverty.] Click Bottled gold.
Budget $800m borrowing. The WA Budget proposes that Parliament agree to borrow $800 million, thus flying in the face of years of political statements that governments had to reduce their debts. (news media around 6-7 May 1999). (The $300m deficit admitted earlier seems to be growing, not counting the $1000m unstated debts due to employees.)
$7m taxation reduction for the privileged. Rich and privileged people who hold land as an investment or for a business will receive a $7 million dollar tax cut, by proposed WA budget reductions in land tax. (news media around 6-7 May 1999) [Also, people who negative-gear their home through a family company, to avoid paying income tax, will benefit, because the land tax the family company would have to pay will be reduced. The privileged who avoid multi-thousands in income tax will now avoid hundreds or thousands in land tax! No wonder some people say the tax burden on the workers and small business has been increasing for years.]
Housing promise to be broken. WA Housing Minister [Mr] Kim Hames has stood aside the Government's 1993 campaign promise to reduce Homeswest [public housing authority] waiting lists by 25 per cent. Instead, he says the Government is committed to ensuring no one waits more than three years. The Opposition had claimed that the Government had failed to cut waiting lists to 25 per cent. Delays of five to nine years occur.(See The West Australian, May 8 1999, p 52, in article "Housing promise replaced," written by Julie Butler.)
Not enough hospital funds for full year. West Australian Premier Richard Court yesterday [May 7] all but conceded increases to health funding contained in the State Budget would prove insufficient to maintain services in public hospitals for the entire year. (See The Australian, May 8-9 1999, p 7) [Did you notice that WA had done the same in the 1998-99 financial year, i.e., not provided enough money for the year? Yet, the useless waste of money on luxuries like the unwanted bell tower plus riverfront changes will continue unless Parliament intervenes.]
Bells and Barrack Square spending still rising, now $19.2m. Click Perth Esplanade Development on earlier Webpage. The cost of the Swan Bells in Barrack Square has blown out $1 million to $5.5 million, it was revealed in the Legislative Assembly yesterday. ... [the revised] design includes an 80m glass spire and massive copper sails, had not been tested in a wind tunnel. ... Stage one of the Barrack Square redevelopment [???], initially ... $18 million, has blown out to $19.2 million. ... new jetty $7.27 million ... tunnel ... artificial beach and lap pool ... Labor MLA Clive Brown asked why the Government gave higher priority to spending $19.2 million on beautifying Barrack Square than to building a new minimum-security women's jail. ("Bells ring up another $1m" The West Australian, May 27 1999, p 11)
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