Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy New Financial Year

Let the celebrations begin! It is Financial New Year’s Eve, and to mark the occasion the biggest ever prize in the history of any Australian lotto game is up for grabs. What could possibly be more fitting at the time of year when we all sift through a mountain of paper work, looking for any meager deduction in order to boost the size of our tax return. Or in some cases, cut the size of our tax debt. But if any of us manages to snag the record $90 million prize tonight the size of our tax return might not be quite so important any more.

So just what are our chances of winning the big one? At a little more than 45 million to one it would seem that the odds are pretty slim. But with the number of tickets sold it is actually against the odds for the prize not to go off tonight, so chances are at least one lucky punter will walk away a winner. It is perhaps more likely that two or three entries will share the money, but hey when it’s this much who cares? Besides, what would you actually do with $90 million anyway?

Most people who dream of a lotto win are thinking of one or two million dollars. They aspire first and foremost to help out family members by paying off mortgages and the like. Then there is the holy trinity of the nice house, nice car and the nice holiday. But when you win $90 million dollars or more, the chances are you will still have $88 million or so left over, so what then? What can you do with all that money? It’s a fair bet most people would look at helping out their favourite charities. Some are probably harboring long held dreams which they would then be able to finance.

For example, with $90 odd million you could produce and star in your own Hollywood movie, although there’s a better then even chance that you would do your dough because it may turn out that nobody wants to see you on the big screen. Or perhaps you would like a yacht just like the one Greg Norman had built a few years ago. That would leave about $15 million over, but of course you would need that just to pay for the running costs for the first year and after that you’d be broke again. Here’s a thought… you could build your very own small hospital. Not only would you be helping out the community, but you would also be protecting your own interests. After all it’s pretty clear you can’t rely on the New South Wales government to provide quality hospital care.

Interestingly, the New South Wales government is already a winner, with an expected windfall bonus of around $26 million as a result of the increased ticket sales. The government collects fees and taxes from the Lotteries office every week, but this week it’s just that much more. While the income from Lotteries contributes to consolidated revenue and thence to schools, hospitals and highways, there are calls that the extra windfall should be set aside and directed at a specific project, such as health, or even donated to charity groups. It’s a nice idea, but I suspect that it will never happen because the state government is desperate for cash. In fact, perhaps it would be a good idea for the Treasury to buy a couple of tickets themselves!

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