Debt crisis spin and MP pay hikes don't mix well
TALK about mixed messages.
On one hand we have Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls telling everyone who will listen that the state is in the grip of a financial crisis with a gross debt of $80 billion.
On the other, he's happy to go along with hefty increases for all the state's politicians.
And now the Federal Government is talking about spending $12 billion on buying fighter jets.
At the same time, we are being asked to fill out a government-sponsored survey which basically says the only way to wipe the $25 billion to $30 billion recommended in the Peter Costello commission of audit is by flogging off assets.
Sorry, but some of us, even those who support the idea of the private sector being more efficient, have some very ugly recollections of the promises former Labor Premier Peter Beattie made when he announced plans to sell electricity assets.
Power prices would come down, he argued, because there would be more competition.
Since then, of course, electricity prices have soared.
When filling out the State Government-sponsored survey, which has been likened to push polling, you are left with little option but to push yes when asked about asset sales if you want to reach the prescribed target.
And as one blogger rightly pointed out, the way the survey is set up is when you push no, the answer goes to yes. My advice - push it back to no.
Other areas of suggested saving include slashing funding for health, schools or basic government services.
It's akin to asking would you support beating your wife.
It's a pity the survey did not provide more open-ended questions to allow people to come up with their own suggestions.
One might be reducing the duplication in services between federal, state and council bureaucracies.
For its part, APN Australian Regional Media has agreed to host the survey because we believe it is important that the views of regional Queenslanders are recognised.
The last part of the survey asks people to make comments about where local spending priorities should be - once you have made enough 'savings' to do that.
It's important, that the views of people on the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Ipswich, Mackay, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, Warwick and other regional centres are expressed as much as those in Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Cairns.
APN will certainly use the survey results from each region to lobby the State Government to ensure we get our fair share of funding.
While it is easy to see why people are upset with the survey format, we would argue that people should give it a go - express their view - and at least be heard.
And if you don't like the survey format - let us know in the comments section below what your other suggestions might be for savings - and where those savings should be directed in your region.
- CLARIFICATION: Earlier, I wrote that Queensland MP's pay increases automatically flow onto mayor and councillors'.
I have since been informed this is no longer the case,
Both the State and Local Government pay scales differ and are no longer linked following an Independent State Remuneration Tribunal and Local Government Remuneration Tribunal decision made around October last year.
As one local government official told me: :"State politicians can now receive increases in excess of 20% compared to a very reasonable increase of say 4.5% for local government representatives based on a decision by the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal."