So far the Federal Government is doing the heavy lifting on carrying the community through the corona virus having announced over $200 billion in funding in the last four weeks.
But notice how quiet the retired and then unretired state treasurer has been. No big cash splash from him, obviously he is desperately hanging onto his budgeted surplus no doubt hoping to keep the ALPs election strategy alive of being seen as the men in black and not red.
To be fair McGowan and the Treasurer announced their own mini stimulus package a slight of hand announcement of $400m, made up of not increasing fees and charges on businesses for 12 months. You could hear the gratitude from the states small business sector if it was not for the sound of doors being closed for good as businesses shut up shop for good.
Then there was the announcement of the government bringing forward the lifting of the payroll tax threshold from $950k to $1m by 12 months, so employers can pay slightly less in tax for employing people.
The only real cash splash they have made of note has been the $93m spent to nationalise the cleaning and catering contract at Fiona Stanley thereby bringing 650 workers onto the public payroll and gifting a swag of new union members to the Misso’s.
A nice political move using the cover of the crisis. As to how will this will save one life or one job during these difficult times was never answered.
The union largess did not end there, the States 7000 police were given a $1000 wage rise and an additional 5 days paid leave on top of their existing annual 168 days paid sick leave (fact) as a sweetener for their ongoing wage negotiations, not that the state got any productivity trade-offs.
Plus, the state’s public servants was handed 20 days paid Covid-19 leave something the small business sector cannot afford to match, highlighting the disparity between the public and private sector pay and conditions continues to rise, a growing drain on a shrinking economy.
In the mean time, the private sector is tanking in the worst shock since the great depression, only a labor government would blatantly use such a crisis to throw money at people with secure jobs, while offering small business to not increase their water and electricity tariffs.
So, here’s some advice for the political war gamers in the Premiers Office busy trading off budget stimulus for marginal seat votes on the white board, forget the surplus for the election, it’s time to target parts of the state the government has overlooked for the past three years and not be so blatantly political.
For example the bush has paid a big price to support the budget surpluses so it’s time to give some cash back. If it is good enough for the state government to throw nearly $10m a year of taxpayers money at bringing a cleaning and catering contract in a city hospital back under the public service payroll, just to keep the Missos onside, then the government can find a similar amount to support country hospitals and keep the bush onside.
Let’s start with additional nursing and support staff in country hospitals to ensure they can cope with the virus. Once we are through the virus-crisis we need to look at the operating theatres in our major regional towns. For example, Albany Hospital has had an underutilised operating theatre that fly in fly out specialists cant access because of a lack of theatre nurses.
What’s the point of building flash new hospitals in the regions like the one they are planning for Geraldton if the staffing is not provided to use the new facilities. Its far better value for money to have specialists fly in and run through a number of theatre procedures in one day than have all these patients go to Perth where there are long waiting ques in our major hospitals.
If $10m a year is value for money buying back the catering and cleaning contract at Fiona Stanley then it can afford to employ 100 more nurses for our regional hospitals to actually provide some care for patients.