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Rann Government Budget « Previous | |Next »
May 29, 2004

The SA state budget was handed down on Thursday night by the neo-liberal Treasurer Kevin Foley. There is a resounding silence amongst Adelaide bloggers. Adelaide Pundit is on holiday. So is Jocknessmonster. And Scott Wickstein shows little interest. It appears that Dogfightatbankstown is in hibernation. It looks like it is up to me to carry the can.

Foley's budget was fairly predictable affair, given the track record of this government.

A budget surplus and tight money management to win the favour of the money markets and gain the much-sought AAA credit rating. There was a bit of spending on health and money to protect for children at risk, so as to remind the electorate that the Rann Government was a Labor Government

Not too much spending mind you. That would upset the market. Just enough to cover its tracks. So the social compassion did not extend to education, which was downplayed yet again. As was affordable public housing.

The environment was forgotten, in spite of the talk from thinkers in residence about the SA economy needing to make the shift to sustainability. In spite of the Rann Government's commitment to sustainability in its strategic plan the environment was not considered to be a Labor priority in Foley's Budget speech.

These guys are really mean. In spite of the proceeds from the GST rolling in, and the Government flush with stamp duty from the housing boom, they continue to increase government charges. They should be reducing these state taxes now that the GST is flowing SA's way. The only one that could be justified was increasing the cost of water.

All Kevin Foley could talk about in the post budget sell was the return of that AAA credit rating by posting higher and higher surpluses, reducing the State's long-term debt, and ever more disciplined, good financial management and fiscal rectitude. Does that mean tax cuts next year when an election is due? Does it mean further reductions for business?

It sure does not mean sustainability. I notice that SA Water remains a taxiing mechanism for the Government and Treasurer Kevin Foley. The Government requires SA Water to pay more and more money in the form of higher dividends into Treasury coffers. So would appear that the move to lift water charges as a way of conserving water supplies is merely an effective rise in the water tax for consumers in the Adelaide area. The increased water tax is sold as conserving water.

It is a sell job because nothing from the tax is being put back into the environment: eg., to acquire water to increase environmental flows for the River Murray. Nope, SA water is out there in the regions selling more and more River Murray water to increase its profits to help pay the dividend to the Treasury coffers. The political decision to continue this business-as-usual shows the lack of commitment to a sustainable SA. It's mostly talk to manage the image in the media.

The image management is also undercut by the $11.4m for the venture capital fund to facilitate emerging industries such as biotechnology and renewable energy. It's a joke in terms of stimulating a new high tech economy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:35 PM | | Comments (0)