Raising the BARR – Week ending 13 July 2018

I’m a politician – please believe me

The credibility of politicians is at an all-time low – I am not too stupid to not understand that.  I see the facts and the truths as they happen and as they are written in documents like the Budget.  Then I see the language that is used to spin the message; and I see the spin that is put on the truth by the various media outlets; and then the language of social media which ranges from accurate to absurd.

So who should you believe?  This is possibly my most difficult job on a day to day basis.  At every meeting in the community, with every conversation that I have, I see all types of variations of the truth and the lies that have been spun.  More often than not, I won’t try to change a person’s mind or tell them a different version of the same issue, because I am a politician and I am probably the least likely to be believed.

There are so many examples of smoke and mirrors along the way.  Let me give you this one small example:  the State Government recently announced a Budget surplus of $3.9B and were congratulated for their financial management, but what they didn’t tell people is that to get the surplus they are borrowing $10.5B.  The $10.5B borrowings, which prove that more money will be spent than is available, were lost on every media report of the Budget.  The surplus is not actually real – it is a Clayton’s surplus.

Here is another example of the smoke and mirrors; the Government tells everyone that they have zero debt.  The poorly informed media outlets, stripped of their staff and resources, simply repeat it over and over.  Joe and Jane Citizen end up repeating the line themselves.

The Treasurer is clever enough to say zero net debt.  The word “net” is crucial to the truth, but would be lost on most.  Most other MP’s, even the Premier are guilty of saying zero debt, without using the word net.  The truth is that the State currently has borrowed a total of $34.38B of debt.  This will be $47B of debt by 2021.  When Mr O’Farrell won the election in 2011, the previous 160 years of NSW Governments debt amounted to $22B.  In just 10 years, the State borrowings (debt) will have more than doubled.  That’s not zero debt!  We pay $50M per week in interest on our debt.  That’s not zero debt!

The Government won’t challenge me on this because they know that it is true, that I am telling the truth.  If you are so inclined, check online for the 2018/19 Budget Papers and go to Budget Paper 1, Table D2 of page D-3.  Despite the fact that I am a politician, please believe me.

The secrecy is real

In my previous column I made some comments about the secrecy of every single report prepared by the NSW Government.  This includes every contract of sale for every single asset that used to belong to all of us as residents of this state.  I have had some feedback that people seem to think that I was joking; that I was perhaps exaggerating or playing it up.  I wasn’t – and I am glad that you are alarmed.

The only reports or recommendations that we have ever seen have been those “leaked” by concerned parties.  And every time we see one of these leaked documents, we are shocked by what we read.  Think about the Cabinet document that confirmed that moving the light rail in Newcastle onto Hunter Street, instead of the existing heavy rail line, would cost an extra $120M.  Think about the Port of Newcastle sale document that shows that shipping containers coming into Newcastle will pay incredibly high penalty prices, condemning our port to only ever being coal and depriving our Hunter economy of change and diversity.  These are examples of the documents we have seen.  Imagine what’s in the others?