an election in Australia. The date is still set at September 14th and the parties still have not officially launched their campaigns but do not doubt it. We are in election mode.
If anyone doubted it then they needed to look no further than the front page of our local newspaper today. There is an article (continued on page 4 no less) about the "pork barrelling" of Western Sydney.
Western Sydney is a vast metropolitan area. It has a lot of marginal seats - seats the government might lose. Oh yes, give them a project or two or three.
All political parties do it at all elections. It will come as no surprise that it is likely to happen.
There was also a list of proposals for my home state. These proposals had already been rejected. I read down the list - and most of them deserved to be rejected.
I have no doubt they are dear to the hearts of those who proposed them but they were not worthy of consideration. Many of them were smallish sports projects - an all weather track at a racecourse was one. I am sorry but if people want to play at riding on horses in races they can pay for it themselves. I feel sorry for the horses required to entertain humans like this but why should something like that be funded.
I know sport is important to many people. I also know that it is held to be useful in keeping people fit and healthy. I know it should be encouraged for social and psychological reasons. All the same I doubt that funding "upgrades" to the facilities used by some groups is really the best use of taxpayer money. Does the upgrade bring in more people? Does is it benefit the wider community? I rather doubt it.
There was one there that should have been seriously considered for funding, indeed it should have received funding. The organisation which asked for it had already raised more than half of what they were asking the government to put it. It would have employed 150 people with disabilities in a regional area. The benefits of this would have spread far beyond the 150 people it would have employed. So why was it ignored? The only answer to that is that the two seats it might affect are considered "safe".
Now obviously funding should not be given on such grounds. It is not what government, democracy and taxpayer funds should be about. It happens.
Oddly our politicians are likely to complain if there are reports of the votes of illiterate people in less developed countries having their votes bought with the gift of money or an animal to increase the herd. I can't see the difference myself.
Raising money is hard work. The Senior Cat and I went to a memorial service yesterday. It was held in a centre we have visited before. It is not large but it can hold about one hundred people comfortably. It has the usual bathroom and kitchen facilities and two small rooms as well as a larger area which can be partitioned into two areas. Because it is in the grounds of an old convent there are gardens around it and a carpark adjacent to it. The convent community raised the money themselves over the years. They hire it out at a very reasonable rate - enough to cover the upkeep. It is a community facility and it gets a lot of use. It is the sort of thing that all governments should consider funding and assisting because it can benefit the entire community...as it benefitted the family and friends who used it to farewell someone yesterday.
There were two projects listed which might have had a similar use. I wonder how many others with similar projects did not even attempt to apply. How many people believe that sports projects in at risk areas and marginal government seats are the only things likely to benefit? Is that the way we should be funding the social health of the electorate?