What Did We Get for Our $400 Billion Loan? (Part 2)

The hunt for where our money went continues here in Part 2:

10 – Flood relief package – $6 billion

I bet you forgot about this one and had no idea it actually cost this much. Remember when the Queensland government thought it would be smart to be the only state without natural disaster insurance and then the Queensland floods happened – and then when Anna Bligh cried? I would have cried too if I had been so utterly negligent.

It’s interesting that people have been jailed for stealing bread – yet when a State Premier is grossly negligent in protecting the State’s interests to the tune of needing $6 billion in ‘disaster relief’, absolutely nothing happens.

9 – Clean energy finance – $10 billion

Gillard set up a system where the government would provide finance to anyone that wanted to generate ‘clean’ energy. There was just one catch – a real bank must have refused to finance the project. In other words, all you had to do was show that your project commercially stunk like these ones.

Sounds like something we all would spend $10 billion on.

8 – ‘Irregular’ maritime arrivals – $10 billion

Rudd and Gillard thought it would be wise to dismantle a functional border protection scheme, to the point of having to process around 50,000 boat arrivals at a cost of around $200,000 each. That’s just the processing cost and does not include ongoing welfare and integration costs.

Tens of thousands still remain unprocessed and at large in the community. In April 2015, the figure was around 30,000.

Meanwhile, real refugees who really needed our help were left to continue wasting away in camps. Brilliant.

7 – Health ‘reform’ – $17 billion

Remember when Rudd said he was going to ‘take over’ our hospitals? As with all things that Rudd had great ideas on, it went about as well as space suit flatulence.

The federal government paying health handouts to the states and territories is nothing new. In Howard’s last year, ‘health care agreements’ (as they were then called) amounted to around $8.8 billion. In 2015-16, the amount is scheduled to be $16.4 billion.

Instead of increasing state government assistance in line with revenue or inflation (i.e. increasing at 3-4% per annum), Rudd and Gillard tried to ‘take over’ and increased spending by 7% per annum – a difference of $17.1 billion.

Of itself, there’s nothing wrong with spending more money on health. Indeed, it should be the number one priority. However, throwing this kind of money to achieve the exact same outcome as before – albeit with a 400%+ and $2 billion more expensive administration – is unforgivable.

6 – Education ‘revolution’ – $20 billion

You cannot walk past a local primary school without seeing the impact of the $16 billion ‘building the education revolution’ debacle. If a school didn’t have a school hall but desperately needed more classrooms or education materials, it had to build a school hall (using union approved labour). If a school already had a school hall, it had to build another school hall (using union approved labour). If a school already had two school halls, it had to build another school hall (using union approved labour). And so forth. What would a school’s principal and management committee have known about what their school really needed anyway?

Also included was the ‘digital education revolution’ which cost $2 billion. What you think of this policy depends on your thoughts about spending $2 billion on trying giving a laptop to every year 9-12 child in high school (I say ‘trying’ for obvious reasons).

There was also a $1.3 billion ‘national school pride’ program thrown in for good measure. I can only imagine the extra pride you must have been feeling in our schools since this initiative.

I’m no education expert, so I’m going to break with my usual practice of ignoring academics for a brief moment and give a couple of them the last word:

Since 2007, schools around the country are quite recognisably the same institutions,” he tells Inquirer. “We have not improved the nation’s scores in terms of NAPLAN and we have gone backwards in terms of PISA (OECD tests). There has not been an education revolution. There is no question about it.” 

“I drive past too many schools where new classrooms look too much like the old classrooms – factory-style, reflecting mass-production technology – that will be obsolete within a very short time and probably run-down,” he says.

“It was good to see that money was provided to schools, but it wasn’t a revolution because there was no significant change in the way we think about teaching and learning in this century,” he says.

“BER was a good example of the lack of deep thinking about the kind of education system we want. It was simply providing schools a narrow range of facilities without any talk of learning in the 21st century. I think if it was genuinely part of the education revolution there would have been more thinking about the connection between the building and teaching.”

Coming up in Part 3 – the top 5…

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