Raising the BARR – Week ending 7 October 2016

Raising the Barr

Is The State Really FREE Of Debt? No, Of Course Not!

If the State had no debt, then a fair question to ask would be “why do we pay $2Billion in interest each year?” Remember, $2Billion = $2,000Million. That equals $5.5Million just in interest, every single day. If you had no debt on your credit card – then surely you would not be paying interest. If you had no debt on your mortgage – then surely you would not be paying interest. If you had no debt on your car – then surely you would not be paying interest. So why does our Treasurer tell us that we are free of debt? In short – it is political and financial spin. And the broader media have swallowed the bait – hook, line and sinker.

Alas, Sewer System For North Rothbury Gets Postponed For 10 Years

In the “sexy” world of Politics, most often people think of funding for a new bridge, a new aquatic centre, a massive road project, a new school, etc. But the most fundamental things are generally far more important. And nothing is more important, or has changed our society for the better more so, than our modern sewerage system. In making that statement, I recognise that many of our communities and villages live healthily, without connection to our sewer mains. They are generally our historical mining villages and/or farmers, and modern septic tanks make this all reasonably simple and easy. But, it is not a “connect and forget” system. Town folks connecting to our sewer mains would not appreciate this.

So, with Huntlee clearly underway and connected to a sewer main of their own, it seemed a bit ridiculous to have the traditional village of North Rothbury not connected. To this end, Hunter Water, Council and I, as your local State Member, all proposed the works at North Rothbury to be done ASAP. Indeed the then Minister made comments about sewerage connections, and mentioned North Rothbury, in Parliament Question Time in 2014. I thought that we had it done. I thought that we had it across the line. Indeed, I remain a little unsure as to why it was not a done deal. I am told that perhaps final Ministerial sign off had not quite occurred.

Fast forward a few weeks, the Minister is sacked, a new Minister installed; the North Rothbury project apparently sits on the desk. Fast forward another couple of months and Hunter Water have their capital works projects (eg connecting sewerage to communities) reviewed by IPART (Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal). The final IPART finding cuts back on the capital works of Hunter Water. This means that Hunter Water will be doing less real projects like sewerage connection at North Rothbury. Ultimately, this means that the good folks of North Rothbury have been put on the delayed projects list and are now looking at a 10 year wait instead of the much hoped for 5 years. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am, and can only begin to imagine how disappointed the North Rothbury community must be, to have come so close, and to have seen the stars align so brightly, only to have it all snuffed out. We will keep working on this timeline.