I just got in from a meeting to find this article on the ABC website noting that the WA budget surplus in greater than expected – nothing wrong with that as long as the additional revenue is put to good use and it appears that some of it is…
The thing that really gets under my skin is the default position that the opposition (of what ever political persuasion) will always fall back to the cheaper political shot about making life easier for the parts of the community that are struggling. I do greatly recommend the state doing what is feasible for people in the community that have issues with their finances to a degree – but trying to hammer the government for increases to utility costs that still do not reflect the true cost of the production of those services (let alone the long term environmental costs etc.) seems ludicrous. If you keep on providing subsidised (or highly subsidised) costs for utilities – the general public will constantly expect to pay those low rates. With changes of environmental conditions here in WA the only way that we can get the public to change their behaviour is to hit them in the back pocket…
Wouldn’t it be interesting if you instead paid more for the utility bills than the ‘cost of production’ and the extra amount was directly farmed back into investing in new technologies / environmental rehabilitation etc.? Maybe this is a bit to green for some of us, however we need to look at alternative solutions for ‘future proofing’ this state.
Obviously mining royalties is our major revenue source – and this will not change for the forseeable future, however is it right for us to use those royalties to subsidise our over consumption of water etc.?
Time will tell – however changes that we make today will be seen for future generations to come. The question is do we have the social and political willingness to do so?
P.S. – If you are keen for further information about our current State Finances – have a look at the report here.