Raising the BARR – Week ending 15 January 2021

Bushfire Grants Lost to Politics While Affected Communities Suffer

There are some days that you get to see the absolute worst of politics. And yes, I realise that some people would argue that the worst of politics is every day, but that is simply not true. There are times and opportunities for entirely decent and noble things to take place in politics – occasionally I have seen this opportunity fulfilled.

When it comes to things like bushfires, devastating natural events that do not distinguish between political representations or lines/boundaries drawn on a map, doing the right thing by all affected residents of NSW shouldn’t just be the right thing, it should be the only thing to do.

That’s why last week it was a real political kick in the guts to discover that a $177M fund, intended to help communities recover from some of the worst bushfires in our nation’s history, had been cruelly used to almost exclusively feed dollars into Government held seats only. Pork-barrelling just doesn’t seem like a word with enough grunt to describe what happened – perhaps it would be better described as robbery, theft or money laundering. At the very least, it was one of our state’s worst-ever moral crimes.

While tens of millions of dollars were being spent on some very non-bushfire related projects in Government targeted seats, here are a few things that our communities in the Wollombi, Laguna, Congewai and Pokolbin villages might have benefitted from: (1) building a new RFS Station for our Millfield brigade instead of leaving them operating from a chook shed; (2) installation and upgrades of communication towers throughout these valleys so that our courageous firefighters could go about their work in a safe and informed manner; (3) investment into the roads into/out of these villages so that any emergency services and evacuations could take place safely. If only someone had put down the political glasses and instead put the people first.

When Did I Become the Accounts Person for These Billion Dollar Companies?

Increasingly I find myself forced to go online to make payments to different companies or else face a ridiculous “processing fee”. My list of regular online payees is now in the dozens. But none of this comes at a cost to the company, to whom I am a customer. Once upon a time, my fees and charges would have contributed to the employment of somebody that processed my willing payment of my bill.

Now I am that person. I am the person that has to open the emailed bill. I am the person that has to go into my online banking account. I am the person that has to enter the details of this bill and approve a payment. I am the person that then has to create a copy of the document and store it away for my records. I am the person that now has to spend countless hours doing the work of someone that is no longer employed so that the company can make its billions and further impose on me a cost of being their customer – my time!