Watching the Senate inquiry into the sports rorts affair shows that the government has no understanding of what they have done wrong.
Eric Abetz, whose entire demeanour screams arrogance, tried to tell us that Senator McKenzie’s intervention had made the grants fairer because it increased the total number of electorates to receive funding and Labor-held seats got more grants from her decisions than from the recommendations of Sports Australia.
He repeatedly tried to get the Sports Australia representatives to agree that this was the case and they repeatedly answered that arbitrary electoral boundaries were not considered in their merit-based assessment which, instead, assessed community need and impact.
For Senator Abetz’s line of argument to be worthy of consideration, we would have to believe that every electorate is equally in need of sports infrastructure upgrades and that the political persuasion of their federal representative should be relevant. This view only confirms that the Coalition consider political considerations more important than funding based on need.
The same thinking seems to apply to school funding and here, Labor are guilty too. Our government offers a public school system available to all. Some people choose not to use it, but still expect government funding to subsidise their choice.
Scared of the political consequences of cutting funding to private schools, governments of both persuasions have caved in to making special deals, especially with the Catholics who are just given a huge amount of money to spend as they will with no justification that it is going to the schools most in need.
It is unbelievably galling to hear about very high fee-paying schools being giving large amounts of government money as they install a sound-proof recording studio, buy new rowing sculls, and build another three squash courts.
As Gonski attempted to point out, not all schools are equally in need and if we are really serious about improving results, we would be giving the funds where there is the greatest need.
It is also unfathomable how the government can resist all the evidence about the urgent need to increase Newstart and the economic and social benefit that would follow. Their opposition seems entirely ideological, pandering to the ‘dole bludger’ pejorative. Drug testing? Nation-wide income management? Seriously?
The argument that the best form of welfare is a job makes no sense as an excuse not to make Newstart adequate – if they could get a job, they wouldn’t be on social security payments. Employment aspiration doesn’t pay the rent or put food on the table in the interim.
We employ these people to invest the common wealth in the best interests of the country, not to spend it to prop up their electoral fortunes.
They just don’t get it.
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