Monday, February 25, 2008

NSW Labor Set To Supernova

The NSW Labor Government is reeling under ever-increasing revelations of corruption at an ICAC inquiry into the relationships among developers, Wollongong Council, and the NSW Government. There are also press reports of possibly corrupt appointment of Labor "mates" and developer donation to political parties.

There is a real risk to our democracy in the way the NSW Government, its Premier and Ministers appear to do business: those with money to donate, get access to Ministers who make decisions. That level of access apparently does not come cheaply; and some donors might well expect a favourable decision after meeting. These erode our democracy; and increase the likelihood and perception of corruption, and benefit only those closely involved.

But there are other problems, too.
  • Project Management is almost non-existent, leading to waste of taxpayer money.
  • The proposed sale of electricity retail, supply and to lease power station corporations can only lead to higher prices for consumers. The Owen Report was strangled into recommending the sale with a brief to ensure NSW's AAA credit rating. It is being vehemently opposed by unions, employees and others, who cite the lack of benefits to the people of NSW, and the expected large increases in prices.
  • Hospitals, and the NSW Health system generally, lurch from one crisis to the next. Much of the problem stems from chronic underfunding, cost-shifting and incompetence.
  • Over the last 10 years, successive Police Ministers have sought to exercise greater control over the functioning of the Police Force - something that goes against the principle of the Separation of Powers.
The NSW Government has been tarnished by all of this. If they do not "restructure" by shedding some senior Ministers, and possibly the Premier, it risks becoming a political supernova.