Post Election musings.

Councillor Peter Harle JP

Peter Harle JP

The state election has come and gone, while little has changed. In Liverpool Liberals reduced Labors’ margin by around 5% but remains at more than 20%, otherwise it made little difference to the more than 100 years of Labor dominance. It means Liverpool won’t get any additional support from the  State Government be it Liberal or Labor irrespective of its enormous infrastructure backlog.

Liverpool with its high Labor vote doesn’t benefit from a Labor State Government. Fact is, very little infrastructure spending occurs in any safe political area. Why would any Government spend large amounts of money in an area that always votes for the same political party with a margin of more than 60% when it doesn’t have to?

Unless voters recognize that fact and vote to reduce that margin nothing major will improve in that area. In fact, it’s dangerous, projects that no-one wants are dumped there. Examples for Liverpool are the transport Intermodals in Moorebank, the enormous Logistic Centre in Prestons and, depending on your point of view, a 24-hour Airport. Making a seat marginal is the only way the opposition will promise to spend money to attract voters. It’s always been the same, never about voters’ needs and wants.

Holsworthy is a prime example, it’s not a safe seat, it swings from Labor to Liberal and back again depending on benefits promised and delivered. Its margin is less than 10% and is winnable by an organised opposition, hence money is and was spent upgrading Heathcote road, its bridges and roundabouts as well as commuter parking facilities at Holsworthy, Leppington, Edmondson Park and Liverpool railway stations.

So, what has the seat of Liverpool managed to get done over the past 25 years or so? Granted the Hospital upgrade was a recent major feat. Before that a major infrastructure projects was the Hoxton Park Road upgrade from two lanes to four including the 15 sets of unco-ordinated traffic lights increasing journey times with as many stops and starts as possible along the way. Could it be to make the M7 tollway more attractive?
Nothing has been done to address the pinch points at major intersection causing enormous delays and frustration in peak periods at both Miller TAFE and Flowerdale road intersections. The same can be said for Elizabeth Drive and its major intersections such as Devonshire Road. Considering more than 68% of Liverpool residents are forced to travel by car to get to work, that should be a major issue.

At a State level Labor offered “free” TAFE courses, unfortunately it was a major disaster for Prime Minister Gough Whitlam when he tried it around 1972. History shows that anything “free” is usually costly, oversubscribed and abused. The Liberals at the Federal levels have done enormous damage to TAFE, wasting billions of dollars on Private (for profit) Training Organisations while Taxpayer money that normally went to TAFE was given away with few strings attached.  TAFE provides industry recognised quality outcomes compared to many of the shonky,  “for profit” providers subsidised by both Federal and State Governments that left tens of thousands of students with nothing to show for their efforts.
Not that Labor Premier Bob Carr was any better, he increased TAFE student fees astronomically by charging fees based on course credentials rather than course length, that too caused an enormous drop in student numbers and is a major disadvantage to Liverpool which has the highest proportion of unskilled workers in the state.

There was the Stadium issue, reputable information showed that a new Stadium was financially viable and overall had many more positives than negatives. I’m sure many voters thought it wasn’t a deal breaker considering we are such a great sporting nation.

Selling or leasing income producing Public Assets is a major concern, examples are the electricity distribution network (leased for 99 years), waterboard (contractors), lotteries (sold), TAB (sold), Public Records and Data recording systems (outsourced) and many more including those that are not yet sold. Arguably private business tends to operate public utilities at greater efficiency although it often results in increased costs to the public or a reduction in services offered. The sale of the Electricity Generating industry was a typical example. Selling remaining essential utilities such as the Waterboard and various Public Transport operations will most likely result in greater costs to those using them and often with a reduction in services offered.
Driver-less trains and buses appeal to potential buyers and operators. The subsequent job losses will be of little concern to State Governments as they simply pass them onto the Federal Government and its taxpayer funding source.

Using funds from the sale of public assets to build Tollways that won’t be lifted for several decades is unappealing, especially when it’s realised that when these assets are eventually returned to the State they are unlikely to meet the needs of the population and again require major upgrades. In this way the cycle continues while generating substantial wealth for shareholders at taxpayers expense.

I’m sure there were other “deal breaker” issues that influenced the election results, those mentioned were some that I considered influenced my choice.
I have lived in Liverpool for over 60 years and I love it, my whole family (which totals 24) also live in the Liverpool area. As an Independent Councillor on Liverpool City Council for nearly 12 years, I very much have a vested interest in ensuring that Liverpool is not “left behind” in the political arena by working to do as much as possible that is in the best interests of most of our community and not a political party. We as a community need to show the major parties that Liverpool needs to be treated with the same respect as marginal areas and not taken for granted which unfortunately it has for many decades.

Peter Harle
March 25th, 2019

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