Wednesday, December 17, 2008

At Last, Some Good News!

I have spent a considerable amount of time in recent years criticizing the New South Wales Government. God knows there has been plenty to criticize. Even now it’s difficult to resist the temptation to begin listing all the failures that continue to plague the state. Even today, it has emerged that rather than increase the number of acute care hospital beds, the government wants to reduce the number of patients admitted. It’s a great idea really, and it will work… eventually enough people will die so that the demand will ease off. But I digress.

Really, I wanted to say something positive. Having spent so much time bagging the government it’s only fair that when they do something right I should mention it. As much as it might seem out of character to praise the government, it’s the least I can do, especially as this decision delivers a measure that I have argued for many times. I refuse to be distracted by the sideshow that has been staged by the Premier trying to tell us all that an increase in rail and bus fares is actually good news and that we should all be pleased as punch.

I mean really, how could we be so ungrateful? The cost of using an overcrowded unreliable public transport system is about to go up, despite the reported study which shows that the capacity of the system to cope with demand is at breaking point, and we are expected to welcome the increase because it’s not as big as it might have been. And we are supposed to feel reassured that the increased fares will go towards the provision of better service, when all of the evidence of the past would suggest that carving pumpkins into carriages would be more plausible!

No, I wouldn’t want to be distracted by such pettiness, because the government has actually done something right. Following much pressure from lobby groups and commentators, the extortionate developer charges and levies are to be cut. Taxes which add almost $100 000 to the cost of a home will be reduced substantially in an effort to kickstart the housing sector and boost the economy of the state.

Although the levies won’t all disappear entirely, and perhaps that would be too much to hope for, it does represent a massive epiphany on the road to Damascus. The net effect of the various changes would see almost $100 000 of levies cut to about $30 000, which is a significant difference in anybody’s language. It is overdue, and it is welcome. And at last, I get to say something nice about the New South Wales government.

I wonder if that will ever happen again…

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