Thursday, 16 December 2021

So taxpayer money is not for buying votes?

You could have fooled me. I have always believed that, in countries where there is some sort of "democracy", taxpayer funds are used by governments in an attempt to gain (and retain) political power.

Downunder has a federal election coming up next year. The Opposition is desperate to win. If they do win they may end up controlling not just the states but government at the federal level as well. Unlikely promises are already being made about  what will happen "when we win government".  Money is being promised for this project and that project. Promises are being made about massive changes to climate policy, infrastructure projects, skills training and more. 

Realistically there is no way the Opposition can reach the targets they are supposedly setting. They know that. A careful analysis of the language they are using would tell the rest of us that - if we were prepared to listen.  

We almost certainly won't listen. But the Opposition is going a step further this time. They are offering to set up a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption. It sounds like a good thing. It sounds like a good thing until you hear that the first thing they want to do is "investigate" the apparent imbalance of taxpayer funds spent in government held and opposition held seats. On the surface that sounds like an excellent idea but ICACs can also be kangaroo courts - and that is what any ICAC set up by the Opposition will be. Their purpose in setting one up will have nothing to do with corruption and everything to do with power. 

Am I being too cynical? I don't think so. I don't think so because I am aware that there are too many issues the present Opposition would not want to see investigated too closely.  Many people hold the view that the present federal government does as "big business" wants and the current opposition does as "the unions" want.

When that sort of thing is taken into consideration is it any surprise that taxpayer money seems to buy votes?   It is easy to convince the electorate of this and that money is being spent in some places at the expense of others. If money was previously spent elsewhere to the advantage of another group it will make no difference. What matters is what political advantage a group can gain by suggesting supposed inequities exist. Facts won't matter.

When I was in my teens our local member would occasionally call in to chat to the Senior Cat. This man liked to keep up with what was going on at the schools in his electorate and his children attended the school the Senior Cat ran. I can remember the MP and the Senior Cat sitting over cups of tea in the kitchen discussing this very issue. There was a badly needed drainage project for which the MP was trying to get money.  It was not a great deal of money and it would have proved very cost effective. Although the party usually seen as sympathetic to the farmers was in power money was not being made available.  It was not made available until after the election the next year - when the new government could claim they had made it available. It was simply blocked by public servants with a different political allegiance. 

It may be that the money pie is fairly reasonably divided up in the end - but the timing of the division can be of the utmost importance in respect of who controls the portions.  

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