I know times are tough and that we will all have to tighten our belts (well so the government keeps telling me). The list of things we can’t afford grows longer and more depressing every day.
But take heart. The list of things we can afford is also growing.
We can afford to spend $9.5 billion over the next four years locking innocent people up in offshore detention camps (though that figure might lower as we kill them off).
We can afford to use a naval flotilla to ward off a few fishing boats. Under Operation Sovereign Borders two frigates, seven patrol boats and numerous Customs vessels will patrol the seas between Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef and Indonesia. Anzac Class frigates cost about $207,000-a-day to operate compared with $40,000-a-day for Armidale Class Patrol boats.
We can afford orange life rafts which cost about $70,000 each to leave on Indonesian beaches after one use each.
We can afford to make a gift of two patrol boats to the Sri Lankan Navy and even spend $ 2 million refurbishing them first. Tiger shooting anyone?
We can afford $14 billion in fossil fuel subsides over the next four years because Lord knows they need our help.
We can afford to give $3.2 billion to the worst polluting companies. This is not to save or create jobs, it’s a handout so they can upgrade their factories and lower their bills.
We can afford to give $5.5 billion a year to new parents. The richer you are, the more you will get.
We can afford to spend $40 billion? on a fast internet system that very few people will be hooked up to. Greenfield developments just became a whole lot more attractive.
We can afford $1.5 billion for the east-west link without seeing the full business case because the state government has refused to make it public (even to Tony). This is despite the pre-election promise that no infrastructure project over $100 million would go ahead without a CBA.
We can afford to give Rupert Murdoch $882 million because he knows how to shuffle money between companies to avoid paying tax.
We can afford to spend about $600 million on two new bigger planes for Tony so he can accommodate the Murdoch press and his personal film crew in VIP luxury.
We can afford to buy a fleet of bomb proof BMWs for Tony at a cost of about $5 million.
We can afford to pay $300 million a year interest on the money Joe Hockey borrowed to gamble on the foreign exchange market.
We can afford two Royal Commissions at God knows what cost (the 2001-03 Cole royal commission into the building industry cost around $100 million) because 8 investigations into the Home Insulation Scheme weren’t enough – we want to get Kevin and Peter. The other one is so we can get Julia and Craig and shut the unions up.
We can afford to give Cadbury $16 million because they sponsor the Pollie Pedal ride.
We can afford to give the Manly Sea Eagles $10 million to upgrade their oval because it is in Tony’s electorate and he is the number 1 ticket holder. We can also afford to give the Brisbane Broncos $5 million because they are owned by Murdoch’s Newscorp.
We can afford $4.3 million for a research company to trawl through millions of Australian social media posts to advise the government on its immigration policies.
We can afford $2.2 million legal aid for farmers and miners to fight native title claims
We can afford to pay Tim Wilson, a man with absolutely no relevant qualifications or experience, $320,000 a year to be an extra Human Rights Commissioner appointed by George Brandis without interview or consultation. To pay Tim, the programs that may have to be cut on anti-bullying and education for older Australians were just a doddle anyway compared to what Tim can bring to the table. The fact that Brandis was present at the IPA 70th birthday bash is just happy coincidence. What a guest list that was.
We can afford to pay Price Waterhouse Cooper to do a study into childcare while the Productivity Commission finishes its study into childcare because Sussan Ley had to have something to talk about first week on the job. I have no idea how much that would cost but, as they are fondly known as Pick Wallets Clean, childcare workers who were asked to give back their payrise may be a little perturbed.
In fact we can afford countless reviews and audits and consultants and committees and investigations. I think we are up to about 50 so far but that could be old news. Considering each of the panel on the Commission of Audit get $1500 per day (and that’s only one review and doesn’t count their office and staff expenses) collectively this has to be in the hundreds of millions. The cost of white papers and green papers makes red tape look attractive.
As Opposition leader, we could afford to pay Tony Abbott well over $1 million a year in claimed entitlements. This is on top of his wage and does not include any staff wages. It’s travel and office expenses. I can’t wait to see how much he claims as PM.
We can afford to pay for Members of Parliament to go to weddings and wineries and book launches and football matches and real estate hunting tours. We can afford to buy books for them and build furniture for them and hire private jets for them.
We can afford to pay for Kirribilli House, the Lodge, the other place we rented for Tony and his family that no-one is living in, and the digs at the police barracks (what’s that all about??) as well as being away from home allowance.
We can afford for Parliament to spend two weeks asking about a convicted Egyptian jihadist terrorist kept behind a pool fence and I don’t know how many weeks on AWU slush fund, Slipper, Thomson. If we took out the daily boat count, there is very little left to justify what we paid them to be there running our country.
We seem to be able to afford a lot of things. The question is….
Can we afford this government?