One of the most important rules of financial management is living within your means. When times are tough, and the income isn’t enough to pay the bills, we borrow money using the assets we have available as security. It is then important to make sure that repayments and interest on the debt remain manageable. Promising that the government will fund particular projects when those in control know not only that there isn’t enough money available but also that borrowing more will put pressure on the budget is both lying and irresponsible. When the Labor [sic] Party in WA lost power at the election in 2007, it left a State debt in the order of three billion dollars. After eight years of a coalition government that State debt has ballooned out to thirty billion dollars, and yet the government continues to commit funds to major projects for which it cannot guarantee enough funding to complete the task. While everyone else was asking what we would do when the mining boom ended the State government kept assuming that royalties from iron ore and oil/gas work would continue to grow. There was no planning for a future with much reduced royalties. As someone who has been involved in financial planning I find that incredible. Now the government claims that we need to sell off mor than half of Western Power to pay off the debt run up because of its own mismanagement, and it has the gall to claim that the Labor [sic] Party is bad with finances.
In the lead up to the Canning By-election in 2015, Canberra promised the funding to upgrade Armadale Road for the 7km which is not dual-carriageway. The State government admits that Armadale Road needs to be upgraded, and it has support from all relevant sectors, yet its controversial Roe 8 project has been pushed through first and work on Armadale Road is now not scheduled to start until 2018.
It is time we all stopped believing the vote-buying promises made by politicians when they know that either there isn’t enough money in the pot, or they aren’t going to be in a position to control what happens to the money which is there. When politicians promise to fund a particular project we should always ask when that project will be started and when it will be completed. If the start time is beyond the life of the next parliamentary term then we should ignore the promise.
Even at a state level we can invest heavily in renewable energy, providing the vast majority of workers displaced by closure of mines and oil fields with work in that sector. The economic benefit is huge, and the cream comes with our positive action on environmental issues. Successive governments have been too closely aligned to the oil and mining companies to be willing to push alternative employment prospects.
● I will push strongly for time frames to be attached to any promise of funding for projects which have the potential to buy votes at an election;
● I will persistently ask for evidence that a promised project can be funded within the period up to the next election, and will hold decision-makers accountable for any delays;
● I will push strongly for much greater Western Australian involvement in the renewable energy sector, and for power companies to be free to buy all the electricity they can from renewable resources, including household and commercial property PV cells.
Authorised by Steven Secker, 4 Dower Court, Armadale.