Business

COMMENT
Save
Print
License article

The best economic plan: live in a marginal seat

Show comments

Hot on the heels of Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer announcing $4 million for netball courts in her blue ribbon seat of Higgins comes news that maybe it's not a safe seat after all. It must be a coincidence. 

Up Next

Internet piracy sites to be blocked

null
Video duration
00:37

More Business Week Videos

Living in a marginal seat

A lesson for everyone: it's a smart economic decision to live in a marginal seat. A safe seat means you don't matter. Michael Pascoe comments.

Turns out O'Dwyer's primary vote is down to 44.1 per cent, which means the Greens have a chance of grabbing the seat on Labor preferences. A cynic might suggest the good old pork barrel is being rolled out to try to save the Assistant Treasurer.

And that provides a fine example of just how venal and pathetic politicians are about spending other people's money in an election – and how inured we've become to it.

O'Dwyer's media release announcing the $4 million of pork begins:

"A re-elected Turnbull Coalition government will drive jobs and growth in Higgins by committing $4 million towards the development of a new multi-purpose sporting facility."

Advertisement

That's Higgins, which already has an unemployment rate comfortably below the national average. That's Higgins, the seat for disadvantaged little suburbs like Toorak and South Yarra. 

The government has been moved to borrow an extra $4 million, increasing the legendary deficit, because the Prahran Netball Association has more than 1500 players but just two courts, one of them undersized. 

You might have thought a free enterprise, market-oriented government would suggest so many players in such a rich area might get busy and build themselves an extra court. But no – there's an election on in what is now a marginal seat. 

And that's a lesson for everyone: it's a smart economic decision to live in a marginal electorate. A safe seat means you don't matter. There's obviously great need of a federal employment boost in Higgins now that it might be marginal. Or perhaps it's more the Assistant Treasurer in need of federal assistance.

Of course, Higgins is just one of many examples and Labor is no better. In just the first half of this election campaign, the AFR's Philip Coorey counted $1.7 billion in below-the-radar, carefully targeted pork

"An analysis of about 95 'micro-announcements' made variously by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, his ministers and, in some cases the MPs themselves, shows $1.3 billion of the money has been used to sandbag marginal seats, with funding for projects including revamped football club change rooms, new netball courts, fixing mobile-phone black spots, fighting crime and preventing or managing illness," Coorey reported.

"Just over $400 million has been spent on larger projects, including $208 million to improve policing of indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and the $282 million announcement that government shipbuilding plans for Perth's Austal shipyards would use Arrium steel."

Crikey's Bernard Keane nailed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's side for promising its own millions for a football stadium and more millions to prop up the myth of the country needing to be a "manufacturing powerhouse". 

It is, sadly, ever thus. 

Under Gillard, the co-operative independent seats did very nicely out of federal projects.

The people of New England are already benefiting from having Tony Windsor back in the fray as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce feels the need to transfer several hundred public service jobs to Armidale

So this is where pro-active local government could do a region a big favour by organising the electorate.

Do as Launceston did when hosting a Rugby World Cup match for two countries most locals hadn't heard of, in a sport none understood: those with odd-number addresses support Team X, those with even numbers go for Team Y. Make it marginal and watch the dollars flow.

In the process though, may the politicians spare the rest of us any lectures about responsible economic management and the need to tackle the evil deficit by avoiding unnecessary spending. 

0 comments