Monday, August 30, 2010

A hung parliament for Victoria?

In the coming November state election, I wish to see the same result as the federal election we just had; that is, a hung parliament. Both Premier Brumby and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu are simply not doing their jobs. Brumby has been accused by his own MP of being out-of-touch with the people, and I think that is being very generous with his words.

I have this bone to pick with Brumby. He cannot be trusted to manage even privatized projects, let alone the state economy. Massive blowout in costs has become the norm. Is that his way of getting projects approved (quoting low), and then compensating private companies who have signed contracts to undertake the project? Railway stations which were budgeted at $20mil became $55mil a few years later, while a comparable one in Marshall was actually built for $5mil around that time when the $20mil figure was proposed. In Malaysia where corruption is rife, the cost of a megaproject is budgeted up front - albeit at many times the real value due to corruption - and then remains that way, completed and delivered. Here, we have a tender process and the project is awarded to a private company to run. Then for reasons unknown to all of us, the private company is allowed to claim higher costs. The desalination plant was costed at $3.5bil; yet a few days ago the papers mentioned $5.7 cost. The ill-managed Myki project cost has already shot into the stratosphere, yet still has no launch date in sight. The list goes on and on.

Next, either Brumby is not honest or he really does not know what is going on under his nose. In the western suburbs rail project, the government has been caught scheming to reduce the options for affected residents to object to the rail line. His cohort Planning Minister Madden is under attack for running a sham consultation process on the Hotel Windsor high rise development. There is now a call for a probe into allegedly "fake" patrol cars to falsely boost police presence (a 2006 election promise).

As for Ted Baillieu, I think he is not vocal enough in highlighting the government's mismanagement. Shouldn't his job be to watch every step of Brumby's ways? Australia has a unique political system whereby the losing opposition party is paid out of the public purse to run a shadow government. Ideally, the shadow government should view itself as a watchdog, not an underdog.

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