Raising the BARR – Week ending 11 August 2017

Raising the Barr

Is An Efficiency Dividend A Budget Saving Or A Budget Cut

In 2011, the NSW Government put into place a 1.5% “efficiency dividend” for every single government department.  This meant that the budgets, the buckets of money, provided to each department would be 1.5% smaller than it otherwise would have been.  Essentially this was saying to the various government departments the following; surely you have some fat in your system, find it and get rid of it and then you will be no worse off.

The efficiency dividend of 1.5% per year has been in place for the last 6 years.  This makes the total reduction in funding for every government department 9% (6 x 1.5).  If you have been unable to see any reduction in the quality of service provided to you, or the cost of services provided to you, by the various Government agencies, then that agency has indeed been able to meet efficiencies.  However, if you have noticed things getting worse, or more expensive, than the budget efficiency might be more of a budget cut.

This year, after reducing budgets by 9% over the past 6 years, the Government announced that for the next 3 years each department would need to find a further 2% in efficiencies.  That will be another 6% on top of the 9%; equalling 15% in total.  By 2020, every single government department will be getting 15% less money than they would have.  No matter what your view on efficiencies, it is hard to imagine that somewhere along the line the result is a cut, not an efficiency.  Imagine for example if your local coffee shop was giving you 15% less flavour in your coffee, or your local oval was mowed 15% less times, or your local school was open 15% less of the time.  Surely these would be considered cuts, not efficiencies.  At some point in time, it needs to be recognised that these efficiencies are in fact cutting deeply into our Government services.

You might ask where is all of the money saved through efficiencies/cuts going to.  A good question.  When the Government got elected in 2011 they committed to the North-West Metro rail line in North Sydney.  The price tag was $8,000 million (not a typing error).  The efficiencies being found in our communities are paying for a shiny new train set in Sydney’s northern suburbs.

The Pressure On Our Police

It is a fact, repeated year after year, that our local Police in the Central Hunter Command area (Cessnock & Maitland) are working harder than almost all of their colleagues across the State. Our local Police attend to more situations, make more arrests, respond to more calls for assistance, and generally do more Policing than is the average or the norm. There are many reasons for this, but beneath all of it is the reality that Police numbers are generally allocated based on population. Unfortunately, we have quite a high crime rate but a relatively low population.

At the mention of crime, people will more often than not, jump to the crimes of theft and drugs as a burden on our community. Sadly, the most common crime that our local Police respond to is Domestic Violence. This is indeed a very serious crime and one that we should all be working to eradicate. But no matter what the crime, our Cops are putting in an enormous effort, every day, to serve our local community. To assist them, I have been campaigning for a new Police Station so that we can then ask for a few more Police on the beat.