Barnaby: Keep Your Eye On The Prize

26 May

Senator Joyce writes for the Canberra Times:

Keep your eye on the prize

For all those budding double agents now is your time. Budget Estimates is on and the heads of all the public service departments are making their way through security with their minions, servants and sycophants. Just the thought: you can square the account with merely a call to my office and the appropriate question will be asked, whilst you watch the whole episode on APAC. “So Mr Head of Department Type Person did you on the 1st of the 4th let your government car be driven by your mistress to a family function at Nimbin?”

As a more noble gesture you may have a serious concern about an issue that really does have national implications. Serious problems cause serious expenditure of serious money. If that is the case we will then have to borrow serious money which has to be seriously repaid. Say nothing or speak up?

The management that has given us the debt is reflected in the government’s need to increase by $50 billion the extension on our credit card. Before this budget the Parliament had approved the government to borrow $200 billion. After this budget, the limit will be a quarter of a trillion dollars. That’s what the Treasurer calls ‘back in the black.’

If we do not get on top of the type of management that has given us the debt the so called efficiency dividend will mean permanent and ongoing closure and contraction in vital activities in Canberra.

So this is what the first harbinger of debt looks like to the Nation’s capital; cuts over the forward estimates, that is the next 4 years, of $2.133 million for The National Library, $1.762 million for The National Museum, $1.099 million for The National Film and Sound Archive, $1.373 million to The National Gallery and $1.632 million to The Australian War Memorial. There are others as well but I see most of you have just said well I am right, keep dancing.

Canberra should have an extensive interest in the Australian Office of Financial Management website noting Commonwealth Government Securities outstanding and whether you have a job in the future. Canberra more than anywhere else should be the most diligent in insisting that prudence is the order of the day and debt is to be repaid. The public service is the canary in the coal mine for excessive government debt.

In budget estimates, in the higher elevation of Parliament House, department after department talks about “tight fiscal times”. Maybe you work or own the restaurant that is a service to a city dependent on, in a substantial way, the public service. Maybe you build the house for the person who works in the restaurant that services the clientele for the public service.

Let us not beat around the bush if you live in Canberra you do not have to be convinced of the importance of the income of those who are employed by the taxpayer. It does not require a major leap in understanding that if you borrow a quarter of a trillion you are some day going to have to pay it back. This time of reckoning will have major implications in the way business is conducted in Canberra.

Canberra needs Australia to be a well oiled and profitable income earning entity. Canberra can not afford well meaning but quite foolish ideas such as recalibrating the nation’s economy on a colourless odourless gas tax.

The decision to go on that frolic has to be assessed against our current position. Australia makes money, over half its export dollars, by exporting carbon in the form of coal and gas. Likewise iron ore needs coal to make steel, I know I did not need to tell you that, and cattle produce methane, but white ants in Australia produce far more.

Where is that tax revenue going to come from to keep Canberra in a job noting we have major debts to finance? Wind farms supplying overpriced power to people who can barely afford it, is no substitute for hard currency earned from export dollars. If you look around your room now and realise how many of the items that are fundamental to your standard of living are imported then you have to acknowledge that we need to do all in our power to put product on the boat to pay for it.

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