State of decay
In response to my observation that â€œâ€¦ the Labor government in NSW is cementing its reputation as the countryâ€™s worst fiscal manager.â€?
Ken Lovell ups the ante, pointing out
I donâ€™t think you need be so narrow in your description of its incompetence. â€˜Countryâ€™s worst governmentâ€™ is fine.
Let me see him and raise him. It seems to me that, looking back as far as I can remember (to the late 60s), NSW has had consistently worse political leadership than any other state.
On the Liberal side, Askin was an old-style crook while Greiner pioneered the new style of doing cosy deals with big business and cashing in with highly paid sinecures after retirement. I almost forgot John Fahey, which is about all I need to say. Then there were a dozen or so unsuccessful opposition leaders, quite a few of whom managed to lose their own seats one way or another.
Labor produced one decent leader, Neville Wran, who succeeded the failed hack Pat Hills. Apart from that there was Barry Unsworth, another failed and forgettable hack, Bob Carr who followed in Greiner’s footsteps and now Iemma, who seems set to combine the worst of Unsworth and Carr, except that the Liberals are now so dire that they couldn’t lay a glove on this easy target.
Disasters like this don’t happen by accident, and it’s no accident that this crew has been put forward by the two most power-crazed and least policy-competent party machines in the country, both of which can be called the “NSW Right” (not that their permanently downtrodden factional oppositions have done much better).
The looming electricity fiasco is just the latest in a string of similar boondoggles of which the Cross-City Tunnel, Port Macquarie hospital, and Sydney Harbour Tunnel are emblematic examples. The successive governments of both parties have been lousy at running public services and even worse at privatising them. I’m no fan of Jeff Kennett but at least when he privatised something he did it properly – a trade sale to maximise the price, and little or nothing in the way of silly offsets and cosmetics. And while running public services is a difficult job, Labor has generally tried – I don’t see much evidence of this in NSW.
Perhaps karma is at work here. With the rise of global cities, of which Sydney would have to be among the top ten, a competently run NSW would have left the rest of the country in the dust. As it is, things are a bit more equitable.