Cartoon: By Pickering. http://lpickering.net/
After a virtual clean sweep of the last state election, taking 78 of the 89 seats in the Legislative Assembly the new government seems to be getting down to the business of deficit reduction. It has started in small immediate moves but former federal Treasurer Peter Costello has been hired to review the states finances.
Judging by the reaction to the axing of the state literary awards there is going to be considerable angst among those who are accustomed to state largesse. This is being seen as the end of the world, as we know it and is claimed that it will stop any books being read in the state:
It's taken a long time even to begin to convince the rest of the country that we of the Deep North aren't … a state of slack-jawed provincials whose idea of refinement is playing the banjo with our toes. Might I suggest there are better ways of pinching a few pennies than effectively saying that the state places no value on reading, or writing, or introspection. …Rather than the usual effort by new governments of claiming budget holes need immediate plugging with new or heavier taxes, the state budget has been postponed for three months to make a proper assessment of what needs to be done.
What is clear at the moment is that the state has been borrowing to feed itself, in fact to pay wages for the day to day running of the place. Despite the mining boom delivering unprecedented loot into the state coffers, there is a four billion dollar shortfall, which needs to be addressed.
Red tape is also being tackled, with an aim of a 20% reduction in the estimated 90,000 pages of regulations the population is burdened with. This will be a refreshing change; normally when a government cuts red tape, it does it lengthwise. The issue is though that with such an overwhelming weight of regulations, it would take a cut of 90% to be a reasonable start.
One thing to go will be the ‘sustainability statements’ required in order to list properties for sale. This was introduced in order to give a green tinge to real estate sales to please Drew Hutton and the Greens, while removing some of the green from homeowner’s pockets.
There appears to be a reversal of Labor’s tendency to use local authorities to inflict greater regulatory burdens on the community. Over the last few years there has been a constant rise in the number of bi-laws passed by councils with the explanation that they are to meet state government requirements. These all come at a cost of either compliance, holding up projects for no good reason, or fees.
The opposite is going to apply now, with the state government asking them to cut red tape in order to assist business, and a declaration that they would be very loath to approve new local laws that don’t have a very positive cost-benefit analysis, especially if they imposed a burden on business.
The LNP may be a mob of SoCons, but at least they have some fiscal nouse.