What are we (Australian taxpayers) really getting for our money?
OPINION by David French
HAVE you ever considered where all the money goes? The billions of dollars spent on Aboriginal welfare, the hundreds of millions in support for single mums and domestic violence.
What about the costs of running Fair Work Australia, the Anti-Discrimination Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
There's no doubting the welfare of Aboriginal people is an obligation fundamentally linked to Australia's history. Likewise support for single mums and victims of domestic violence can only be seen as an integral part of a wealthy and civilised society.
It'd be a big call to do away with employment, consumer and corporate regulation - as free market as I am, I am not so silly as to think that everyone always works for the best interest of all.
Here is the thing though. What outcomes are we getting for the money we spend on these initiatives? How much community support and regulation is enough?
Could it be that many of the proponents of these supposedly society friendly organisations are in fact taking us for a ride?
Consider Aboriginal welfare.
According to Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, more than $30 billion a year is spent on measures that, among other things, are supposed to assist often dysfunctional communities, stripped of culture and meaning. Some of it is spent on painting rocks (literally). It's been going on for years, but still there is no improvement.
In Bourke, far sighted indigenous residents (the Men of Bourke) have voiced their own criticisms of Non-Government Organisations, seemingly providing exactly the same services to exactly the same disadvantaged residents, over and over again.
Pearson calls for more accountability and initiatives designed to deliver confidence and empowerment; he is often howled down, sometimes by his own people. But look around our region.
The Wade Manns, The Ghenoa Ghelas, the Samara Tobys, the confident man in the Gumbi-Gumbi shirt and many others. People that make me envious that they have a heritage .
People sometimes criticised by their own, but who in any event are obviously changing things for the better. People for all of us to look up to.
What if the resistance to individual responsibility is really a case of snouts in the trough?
Could it be that many of the do-gooders are in it for themselves, fighting to retain a status quo that delivers billions in sometimes very high salaries with next to no accountability and even less work? A status quo that ensures the problems (and therefore the income feast) persist.
Surely that would explain the never ending range of grievances, the new regulators, expanded government departments, the declaration of valuable discussion as 'off-limits' (on account of supposed offence).
It would explain ASIC's almost certainly flawed (but popular) court case into rigging of market interest rates and the ACCC's pop allegations of non-competition, where in some cases competition is patently evident. And also the claims that people in wealthy suburbs are as likely to experience domestic violence, as poor ones, when in fact the evidence is exactly the opposite (it's just not reported 'they' say).
Folks, we are in an era of falling living standards.
For many this is a situation that will last until the last of the baby boomers are gone.
People are grasping for certainty and the current environment where feelings come first, provides fertile ground for sympathetic and lucrative causes. Whether you are a brave leader like Noel Pearson or a naive university student at QUT, you will soon realise this is a fight over a shrinking pie.
It is becoming vicious.