Dom disappoints as Matt collapses
When Dominic Perrottet became Premier of New South Wales last October, after Gladys walked away after contact with the ICAC, I was filled with a certain optimism. He was a true Conservative politician, an elected official who was not afraid to speak his mind.
A mate of mine based in NSW was quick to clear me up. It was out of the question that Perrottet lived up to my aspirations. He didn’t (and doesn’t) have the numbers the NSW party ‘moderates’ (aka Labor-lites) are calling the shots and Perrottet would be no better than the sloppy leaders who came before him.
How right was my friend! In many ways, Perrottet is worse than Gladys because he now goes against just about everything he once stood for. Where he once scoffed at the idea of flying the Harbor Bridge Native Flag and other virtue-signalling paraphernalia, he now orders the flag to become a permanent feature – even at a cost of $25 million. .
(Let’s just hope he has time to get to Bunnings to undermine the preferred supplier of the new mast and flag. $25 million seems a bit steep even if you tell the world what a good person you are. )
And what is all this “ideological climate warfare” stuff that Perrottet talks about and the ridiculous idea that “the renewable goal of the state [50 per cent cut by 2030] will contribute to ensuring the sustainability of its electricity supply? Is he mad? He may not have the numbers, but why would he make those comments?
Now maybe he had a bad dose of green fever, but what explains his reference to “a whole lost decade”? Clearly, the “problem here, which NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia currently face, has been the lack of private sector investment”.
The thing is, he talks through his hat. Since 2012, over 90% of power generation investment in the eastern states has been in wind and solar. And, per capita, Australia has the highest grid-scale renewable energy generation rate in the world. This is about ten times the world average.
The real problem in New South Wales (and the other eastern states) is that there has been no net investment in reliable, 24/7 production, and this is the key to explaining the crisis that is overwhelming the national electricity market.
Mind you, I should have been on Perrottet long before he became prime minister. It was obvious that he was captivated by the types of investment banks and the “miracle” of modern financial management. He had been persuaded to set up the NSW Generations Fund which would be managed by a division of the Treasury, TCorp.
Thanks to the proceeds from the sale of the first tranche of WestConnex, TCorp’s extremely well-paid staff (average salary over $300,000 a year) were given carte blanche to bet taxpayers’ money on the vagaries of international equity markets. and bonds. Notwithstanding the designation of one of the sub-funds for debt reduction purposes, in fact the fund has been used to place big financial bets, resulting in a lot of red ink in 2022.
Perrottet was also the father (he’s pretty good at it) of the highly dubious Transport Asset Holding Entity in which the assets and liabilities of the public transport system were pooled in an off-budget fund, in part to hide the amount. public debt borne by the State.
I’m not sure too many readers will question my description of Perrottet as stupid, therefore. But when it comes to sillier, there’s no price guessing Matt Kean, newly installed NSW Treasurer (and still Environment Minister, groan) takes that title.
The fact that New South Wales now eliminates the wooden spoon as the worst budget performer, ahead of the profligate and irresponsible states of Queensland and Victoria, is really all you need to know. Look at the numbers and cry.
In 2020-21, NSW’s net public debt was $37 billion. In this fiscal year, it will be $78 billion. That’s a 110% increase in two years! By 2025-26, New South Wales’ public net debt is expected to reach $115 billion. (At least former prime minister Mike Baird’s asset recycling program actually involved paying off debt, even if it included dodgy deals.)
Matt Kean’s first budget is an outlay, with the 2022-23 budget deficit standing at over $11 billion. It is only in 2024-25 that a very small surplus is expected; I would not advise readers to hold their breath over this result. Where once one might have expected a centre-right government – pause here for unconstrained laughter – to be fiscally responsible, Mr Dumber proposes spending more than Labor states and d increase the public debt at a much higher rate.
Also be aware that the NSW budget forecast is based on implausible optimistic economic assumptions, including the projection that the unemployment rate will remain below 4% for the next four years. No economic clouds for NSW, obviously.
But just in case you’re not convinced by my description of the person who is now NSW Treasurer (he once declared himself the most outstanding environment minister in the world) as dumber, let me me to end with an excerpt from her compelling budget commentary, including the interesting $5 billion Women’s Opportunity Statement.
“His timing is opportune, if decades overdue. Last year, we saw an outpouring of frustration from women across the country, following the courageous advocacy of Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame. When the women told these stories, I saw other women listening intently and nodding their heads in agreement. (Move on, Greta: Brittany and Grace are now in charge of public policy.)
And here is another example of the Keanster where the words speak for themselves. “We chose to give our children the best start in life so that they can not only achieve their dreams, but dream bigger in the first place. We choose to ensure that families can continue to buy a share of the Australian dream. We choose to harness the wonders of modern science and the power of our wind and sun. We choose to leave a better planet for future generations.
Perhaps he imagines himself to be the next John F. Kennedy or Nelson Mandela – another blacksmith put on this earth to improve our lot. Or not?