Waste and maladministration of W. A. Govt., cont.

  This is a continuation of a Webpage about the waste and maladministration of the Western Australian Government, while it was in the hands of the Coalition of the Liberal and National Parties (defeated in 2001).

   Leases up to 16% dearer. WA's Auditor-General Des Pearson issued a scathing report that the Court Government was not bothering to check whether it was cheaper to lease or buy equipment. Agencies involved in 39 leases were able to show that leasing was cheaper in less than half of them. Leasing was up to 16 per cent dearer. On the same day the Works Minister Mike Board tabled a report recommending that departmental heads be responsible for contracting goods and services, and that the State Supply Commission be abolished. "Taxpayers slugged by costly leases," by Jennifer Grove, The West Australian, July 1 ,1999, p 1.   See Car above and Fiasco below.

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 Constitutional Centre budget blowout careless: The Constitutional Centre spent $300,000 more than its budget, and had let a contract for $60,000 without calling tenders. The person in charge, Mrs Morel Ednie-Brown, later dumped, had as a referees for her job application a commissioner of the Perth City, and her husband had been a commissioner. [The councillors had been removed from office in spite of a referendum of support].  The problems were due to a lack of financial management, a parliamentary committee was told. -- "Budget blowout 'careless'" by Wendy Pryer, The West Australian, July 1 ,1999, p 9.
  Pieces of gold leaf in bottles.  Click Gold leaf.  A controversial bottled wine released last week contains pieces of gold leaf. It has been attacked by the Opposition as extravagant. The 500 bottles for public sale will be $50, which will include $5 to be donated to the charity, Telethon. ("Stir over a golden drop of Perth Mint bubbly," by Michael Zekulich, The West Australian, Monday July 12 1999, page 31.)
  Treeless forest reserves of about 333,000 hectares. Coalition impudence! Read Forests, please.
Abattoir gifts now reach $11.5m: The State Coalition Government has granted another $500,000 to a firm based in New South Wales which got $11 million to establish an abattoir in the electorate of National Party MP Monty House, who is also the Primary Industry Minister. Fletcher International had got $556,710 in traineeship training assistance, Minies Minister Norman Moore told the Legislative Assembly recently. Parliament had previously been told the new abattoir would be set up at Narrikup, 380km south-east of Perth -- in the Albany region. Part of the $11.5m are loans which will revert to gifts if the abattoir is established within five years, part are to provide infrastructure. Metro Meats and Beaufort River Meats have accused the government of turning its back on local investors. Opposition primary industries spokesman Kim Chance has Auditor-General Des Pearson to investigate, saying it was a scandal of immense proportions. He said "The National Meat Association has pointed to the fact that at the time the decision was made, the export abattoir industry was opeating at only 60 per cent capacity, yet the Government has proceeded to pour public money into a project that could only worsen the oversupply." -- see The West Australian, August 17 1999, p 4.
  Compulsory high school fees possible: Ex-Labor Independent Mark Nevill might back the idea of making high school fees compulsory. The fees at present are $225 a year at State-run secondary schools. Traditional Labor used to insist that government-run schools be free. Under a proposed Government bill, primary school fees of $60 would remain voluntary, but high school fees would rise $10 to $235 and be compulsory. There is a scheme to help low-income families, and Minister Colin Barnett proposed to increase the aid under that scheme to cover the whole amount of $235. -- The West Australian, August 31 1999, page 6, and see Sep 2 p 9.
  Class sizes above limit: Many State primary schools exceed the new Years 1 to 3 class size limit of 28 children. This is in spite of the Government saying it has supplied extra staff. The State School Teachers' Union and the WA Council of State School Organisations are not pleased. Education Minister Colin Barnett said that some schools may have employed a teacher aide, or used the extra money to conduct remedial work or tandem teaching classes.-- The West Australian, August 31 1999, page 6
  Soccer stadium to repeat bell bungle: Mr Ken Adam, chairman of the urban planning think-tank CityVision, said that the State Governemnt risked another belltower fiasco as a result of including a soccer stadium in the planned $100 million convention centre. Its inclusion was absurd and could create chaos for the centre's design, traffic and public transport. Including the stadium would result in a cheap and basic version which would then require millions of dollars to be upgraded to international level, Mr Adam said. -- The West Australian, September 2 1999, p 41. (See Luxury Spending while 97 die awaiting hospital treatment.).
  Car leasing fiasco: Police forced to cut fleet: Twenty-five Police cars are being taken off the streets as the Court Government tries to salvage its vehicle leasing deal, which is said to be losing money at the rate of $1 million a month. Overall, government departments are going to lose 475 cars out of the 9500 they run. In 1996 the Government had signed a 10-year deal with Sydney merchant bank Matrix Finance, to sell them the car fleet and lease vehicles exclusively from them. It appears that, under the secret deal, the State Government must repay Matrix any shortfall between the expected value of the cars at the end of the lease period and the actual price obtained at auction. The used car market prices have supposedly fallen. Total losses since 1996 are approaching $30 million. However, Under-Treasurer John Langoulant said on October5 that the financial situation would be the same if the Government still owned the fleet. -- Michael Southwell, The West Australian, Oct 6 1999, p 1, "Car fiasco: Police forced to cut fleet"  (COMMENT: Mr Court and his bent advisers seem to believe that they can govern WA without increasing the taxes on those who are enriching themselves out of public assets, and that somehow the companies they give preference to can provide services at less than cost. Meanwhile, there is much talk of genuine competition and the other mantras of the heartless face of "economic rationalism." See Car and Leases, and next item.)
  Myths about car deal continue, says Premier Court: In a letter to The West Australian yesterday, Premier Richard Court said: I am forced to write this letter as a result of the continuing misinformation that your newspaper is perpetuating on the State Government's fleet arrangement with the Matrix Finance Group.
  While the claims that the Government has lost $30 million as a result of the contract have been shown to be false, the myths continue. The latest furphy [Australian slang: Story based on gossip and rumour-spreaders] is that the Government has done a backflip and is preparing to renegotiate its contract with Matrix. The Macquarie Dictionary lists backflip as a complete reversal in official policy and I find it amazing that your paper can attach such meaning to the Government's actions in relation to this contract.
  My amazement stems from the fact that your reporter was made aware early last week that "unlike private car owners the Government is in the fortunate position of being able to renegotiate its contract with Matrix -- to reflect the changing market."
  This fact seemed to be ignored in continuing coverage of the issue.
  The ability to renegotiate the contract was included at the insistence of the Government in recognition of the fact that, in long-term deals like this, circumstances can change.
  It makes good business sense; it is good financial management. Yet when the State pursues an option that it created -- and which has previously been explained to your newspaper -- it is labelled as a backflip.
  The contract with Matrix has provided benefits to the people of Western Australia and the contract has been deliberately framed to give the Government the opportunity to renegotiate if required. I hope the message finally gets through. RICHARD COURT, MLA, PREMIER. -- The West Australian, October 14 1999, p 8.
  [Put on this Website 14 Oct 1999 to provide balanced reporting; emphasis added. In the newspaper this letter with a picture of Premier Court was published next to a large newsitem by Michael Southwell entitled "Heads Matrix wins, tails taxpayers lose." Nearby was the newsitem "Criddle coy on bus deal," by Mark Mallabone, reporting that 848 new omnibuses were likely to be put into a similar contract with Matrix for $270 million.  One condition is that the Australian Tax Office approve the tax exemptions that would flow from the scheme. And taxpayers who lose their jobs or businesses are sneered at, or called "dolebludgers"! With tax schemes like this, and the Federal Coalition's intention to lower company tax to 30% while individuals pay a marginal rate of 47%, is it any wonder that I quote authorities who say that most modern governments are transferring more assets from the public to the super-rich?] See above item Fiasco.
  Gilleece was under scrutiny in 1997, but Premier still denying knowledge of deals: Premier Richard Court yesterday [Oct 13 1999] denied any prior knowledge of former chief adviser Jack Gilleece's outside business deals despite evidence that the Premier's office investigated a Mongolian venture in 1997. Mr Gilleece quit in disgrace as Mr Court's chief adviser in July 1999 when it was revealed he had had secret business dealings with companies involved in Government contracts. Another proposed deal has come to light. Mr Gilleece was holidaying in Mongolia when he attended a meeting with his friend, Douglas McGay, WA managing director of SoftCopy Digital Mapping, and Mongolian Agriculture Secretary B. Zarikkan in February 1997. Mr Gilleece had told an inquiry that at the meeting he had made it clear he was not attending in any official capacity. The meeting was to discuss importing the Tengraph Land Registration system, which is a Government-owned mining and exploration lease software system which Mr McGay wanted the Mongolian Government to import. Mr Gilleece had called Mines Minister Norman Moore's office up to five times about progress helping the Mongolian Government import Tengraph but did not say he was acting in a private capacity. Letters on Mr Gilleece's office computer to international companies talked about business ventures he was going to establish in Mongolia. The Opposition's Eric Ripper called for an independent inquiry with coercive powers to investigate Mr Gilleece's deals. -- Adapted from The West Australian, "Court feels adviser heat." by Anne Burns, October 14 1999, p 12.
  [Remember, please, that the Labor Opposition under Brian Burke and others had its "deals", including paying a man called Walsh a big commission on political campaign donations to the party, briefcases of money, land transfers below market price, etc., etc.]
  Tolerate sick people peering through windows: The public has been asked to be tolerant towards sick people peering through the windows of their houses. (The "rationalists" in most world governments have "deinstitutionalised" mental health patients, i.e., turned them out into the street without a fixed home or routine.) The Inglewood police in metropolitan Perth have called for tolerance of these people. Sergeant Tyrone Stacey said it was unreasonable to demand those responsible be charged when they were mentally ill. -- see Voice News, October 8, 1999, p 7. This newspaper claims 33,000 weekly copies to areas from Osborne Park, Yokine, Morley, and Bayswater down to Perth city. Address: 401 Oxford St (PO Box 103), Mt Hawthorn WA 6915; Tel. 9443 7433, fax 9443 7344, voice@iinet.net.au, or voice@mail.iinet.net.au
  Belltower sale option as it loses $1000 a DAY: THE [new Labor] State Government has not ruled out selling the controversial belltower if it continues to lose money. The troubled tourism site [built by the Coalition] has been losing $1000 a day since an entrance fee of $6 for adults and $3 for children and seniors was imposed on April 10. * * *
-- Melissa Stevens, The West Australian, Friday June 15 2001, page 5.
  Comment by John Massam: Will the Liberal and National MsP (many of whom were defeated at the elections earlier in 2001) now decide to pay their share towards the cost and losses of the belltower? That would be "user pays" and "responsible economic management" done all the way! This website's first reference to the luxurious wasteful spending by the Coalition near the Barrack Street Jetty was supplied by Mr Ian Anderson, and is at Perth Esplanade Development, often deceitfully called "redevelopment" by the Lib-Nat Coalition. The so-called "conservative" parties ought to look at the Churches that manage with nowhere near operational losses of $1000 a day per belltower! For the complete article and people's protests, click belltower.htm

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Electoral Authorisation:  John Charles Massam, 46 Cobine Way, Greenwood (a Perth suburb), WA, 6024, Australia. Telephone: +61 ( 0 ) 8  9343 9532, Mobile Cellphone 0408 054 319, E-mail: john.massam@multiline.com.au

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